Student Housing West environmental study now available for review and comment

Schematic drawing of the Heller Site, viewed from Rachel Carson College.
Drawing of the interior courtyard at the Hagar Drive site.

Editor's note: The May 3 meeting on Student Housing West will be held from 5–7 p.m. at Hotel Paradox, 611 Ocean St., Santa Cruz. The message has been updated accordingly. 

Student Housing West—our effort to further increase on-campus housing for our existing students—is entering the next stage of project review.

Today, we released the project’s draft environmental impact report, which is available online for review and comment. This document is an in-depth analysis of the project, its impacts, and the ways we're going to reduce them.

Student Housing West—spread over two sites, Heller Drive and Hagar Drive—will provide housing for 3,000 students. Most of the new housing units will support upper division undergraduates and graduate students at the Heller Drive site, though the project will also create new housing for students with families on Hagar Drive as well as a child care center that will serve campus employees, in addition to students.  The student experience will be seamless with the residence life program provided by the team that supports existing housing on campus.  

The design and programming of Student Housing West has been guided by student preferences and needs, feedback gained through our project student advisory council, campus forums, and town hall meetings, as well as housing surveys and review with various campus groups.

We are hosting two meetings to provide more information about the project and to offer our campus community, agencies, and the public an opportunity to provide oral comments on the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

The first meeting will be from 6:30–8:30 p.m. May 2 at the Louden Nelson Community Center, 301 Center St., Santa Cruz, Ca.

The second meeting will be 5–7 p.m. May 3 at Hotel Paradox, 611 Ocean St., Santa Cruz.

Once we close the review period May 11, we will respond to the comments and revise our EIR as appropriate.

We expect to have Student Housing West, including the final EIR and an amendment to our 2005 Long-Range Development plan, before the UC Board of Regents for approval in July with construction set to start in September.

The project will be done in phases with construction scheduled for completion by fall 2022. It is currently the largest housing project in all of Santa Cruz County.

Many studies have shown living on campus is an important element in the success of university students. Being immersed in a campus environment helps foster student engagement and a sense of community, all of which helps in the retention of students as they progress toward degree completion.

We have an obligation to ensure adequate on-campus housing for our current and future students—particularly as we confront an unprecedented statewide housing crisis that is directly impacting our students.

Student Housing West is one step in the right direction. It will both provide support and relief to our students, and by extension free up some room in the local housing market. To learn more about this important campus project and keep up with the latest developments, visit the Student Housing West Project website.