Student housing environmental review affirmed by the courts


A UC Santa Cruz project that will significantly increase campus housing options for current graduate and undergraduate students has cleared a crucial hurdle in the courts.

Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Paul Burdick on Friday upheld UC’s detailed environmental review of Student Housing West. The project underwent a thorough analysis, underscoring the campus’s commitment to the environment.

The judge also determined that the project’s findings under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) were not properly adopted by the UC Board of Regents and on that basis has ordered the Board to set aside the project approval. The campus may return to the Board for approval of an on-campus housing project.

"UC Santa Cruz values the input and feedback from the community regarding its projects, including housing. More campus housing is good for our students and good for our community," Chancellor Cynthia Larive said. "We look forward to returning to the Regents for their consideration and decision."

CEQA requires public agencies like UC Santa Cruz to inform decision makers and the public about the potential environmental impacts of its proposed projects and reduce those environmental impacts to the extent feasible. 

An environmental impact report (EIR) contains in-depth studies of potential impacts, measures to reduce or avoid those impacts, and an analysis of alternatives to the project. An EIR must be prepared and certified prior to project approval. 

Student Housing West will provide new beds for our existing students and will help relieve pressure on local housing. The project will also provide a new childcare facility that will be able to extend service to the children of faculty and staff, in addition to students. 

Before the pandemic, UC Santa Cruz was providing housing for more than 9,000 students. To support the health of the campus and the local community, the university is currently housing significantly fewer students and encouraging students to live at their permanent residence, if possible.