Extending comment on the Student Housing West EIR

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Chancellor George Blumenthal and Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor Marlene Tromp

We write to provide an update on the Student Housing West project, designed to provide more desperately needed affordable-housing options for our students. The project includes about 3,000 beds, and will serve upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and students with families, as well as expand child-care services to all students, faculty, and staff.

On Friday, May 11, the public comment period for the project draft Environmental Impact Report closed. In the 45-day period, we received more than 200 comments, some in support of the project, others sharing concerns. In addition, many in our campus community have reached out to us outside the formal commenting forums, offering their thoughts on the development.

As a result of this feedback, it has become clear to us that having a more robust discussion about the proposed project, and particularly alternatives to the proposed project, is necessary before moving forward. To this end, we have decided to extend the comment period to June 27, 2018. We will hold additional information sessions in May, as well as two more public hearings, on June 6 and 7.

Following the end of the extended public comment period on June 27, the university will evaluate all comments, from both the original comment period and the extended one, with our project goals in mind. Among them: maintaining affordable housing for students, minimizing environmental impacts, and mitigating the displacement of students with families.

To ensure we have sufficient time to properly consider the public’s input, we will also be postponing presentation of the project to the Board of Regents until sometime after we have charted our next steps.

Extension of the comment period will inevitably delay the start of construction and push back project completion. However, we value our community’s input and want to ensure that those with different ideas on the path forward have their feedback carefully considered.

Comments during the extended period must be sent to Alisa Klaus, UC Santa Cruz, Physical & Environmental Planning Services, 1156 High St , Barn G, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, or emailed to eircomment@ucsc.edu. During the extended period, we will share additional information learned since release of the Draft EIR, including information regarding costs. Public comments will also be received at additional public hearings scheduled for June 6 and 7. The locations and times will be announced soon. Any information learned since release of the Draft EIR will also be disclosed in the Final EIR.

We remain committed to offering our students more affordable-housing options, relieving overcrowding on campus, and also easing pressure on the greater Santa Cruz-area housing market. We believe that by extending the public comment period we can better understand the concerns of our community and explore proposed alternatives and project modifications with the goal of developing broader consensus on the right path forward, helping us to achieve both of those goals.