Regents approve Student Housing West, Kresge renewal

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Chancellor George Blumenthal

I write with good news. Today we received the final stamp of approval needed to proceed with Student Housing West, our proposal to build roughly 3,000 additional and affordable beds on campus. 

The University of California Board of Regents has actually signed off on two large-scale capital projects for campus: Student Housing West and our plan to revitalize Kresge College. The two projects are part of an integrated strategy to provide new and additional campus housing. I believe that together these projects significantly brighten UC Santa Cruz’s future.

Student Housing West — at two sites, one along Heller Drive, the other along Hagar — is crucial in that it will give us more than 3,000 additional on-campus beds. It will bring upper-division students now in the local housing market back to campus, offering them safe, more affordable housing. It will relieve pressure on the greater local housing market and allow us to ease overcrowding in existing dorms by restoring some of the lounge space we have converted to sleeping space in recent years to meet serious need. Student Housing West also expands much-needed child care on campus, enabling us to once again offer faculty and staff what is now only available to our students with children. 

Student Housing West has critics. Some believe a small slice of meadow the project will occupy should remain untouched. I sympathize with their desire to keep things as they are, but I strongly believe this is the right project, in the right place, at the right time. California is in the grips of a severe housing crisis. In our own community there is an extreme lack of housing, and what is available is prohibitively expensive. Too many of our students are struggling to get by in this irrational housing market, and Student Housing West is our attempt to help them.

The Kresge College renewal is another vital piece of our future. The approval allows us to move forward with a plan to preserve and upgrade some beloved landmarks, which are fast-approaching 50 years old, integrating them with new facilities including residence halls, classrooms, lecture halls, and programmatic buildings. The project will allow us to better meet the needs of today’s student body, while safeguarding the college’s historic elements.

In my 47 years on campus, I can’t recall two projects of this scope and vision being given the green light at the same meeting. This is an extremely positive development for our campus, aiding students, staff, and faculty, and I am delighted we’ve been given the go-ahead.