Following approval of Long Range Development Plan, campus invites local leaders to collaborate on framework for sustainable implementation

Chancellor Cynthia Larive has been meeting regularly with local leaders to find ways to maximize the university’s contributions while addressing impacts

Students posing with Sammy Slug
UC Santa Cruz has been on an unprecedented trajectory, producing transformative research and scholarship that serves society while graduating more than 140,000 students who are making their own contributions locally, regionally and globally.
For the next 20 years, the 2021 LRDP will serve as a blueprint for future physical development on campus, detailing at a high level how the main campus and Westside Research Park might develop over the next two decades.

UC Santa Cruz has invited city and county leaders to help develop a framework for sustainable implementation following approval of the campus’s 2021 Long Range Development Plan by UC Regents today.

Chancellor Cynthia Larive said UC Santa Cruz will continue to work closely with elected officials to balance the need for educational access for California’s students with community concerns, particularly around housing, traffic, and water.

“I believe we can both fulfill our mission to serve California and continue to be a great neighbor in Santa Cruz,” Larive said. “With the plan approved, we can focus on addressing the remaining concerns. The campus, city and county have a strong relationship, and I know we’re on the path toward resolution.”

Campus, city and county leaders signed an agreement earlier in the week that lays the groundwork to start formal discussions about charting a path forward and resolving concerns connected to the 2021 LDRP. 

For the next 20 years, the 2021 LRDP will serve as a blueprint for future physical development on campus, detailing at a high level how the main campus and Westside Research Park might develop over the next two decades. The plan is the result of more than four years of work by campus leaders and planners with extensive collaboration with campus and community members.

The proposed LRDP does not detail specific projects. It functions essentially as a land-use document, identifying where students, staff and faculty could be housed and where spaces for learning and research could be created, while also imagining the infrastructure needed to connect it all. It is informed by community input and the university’s ambitions for the coming decades, including continued advancement of its academic and research missions, expanded access to higher education for the next generation of Californians, and more on-campus housing opportunities for students and employees.

Chancellor Cynthia Larive presented the plan, the accompanying Environmental Impact Report (EIR), and the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program to the UC Board of Regents Finance and Capital Strategies Committee on Wednesday afternoon. Committee members, who unanimously approved the plan, sending it to the full board for consideration today, asked several questions, including about the objective to provide housing for 100 percent of students beyond 19,500. 

Board members also asked about the campus’s efforts to reduce per-use potable water demand by increasing reliance on stormwater runoff and recycled water, and about conducting engineering audits on campus water use, a mitigation measure in the plan’s Final Environmental Impact Report.

Other questions focused on reducing car trips, and the mitigation measure for Transportation Demand Management programs the campus will pursue to encourage pedestrian, bicycle and transit use, including the addition of on-campus housing for students and employees.  

Regents commended the plan’s inclusion of employee housing. Larive explained that within the University of California, UC Santa Cruz already provides one of the highest number of employee housing units, and will continue to do so as we add additional housing over the next 20 years. Regents also noted the campus’ efforts to minimize the developable area in high-fire severity zones on campus.

Board members noted that legally-binding mitigation measures are inherent parts of the plan. 

“I think we are going forward in a responsible manner,” UC Board of Regents Chair Cecilia Estolano said. “We are meeting the state of California’s needs — but we are doing it in a much more conservation-oriented approach, a much more compact development than the previous LRDP had, so I am very pleased to support this LRDP.” 

Estolano underscored the importance of continuing to partner with local leaders, urging the campus to continue conversations with the members of the Santa Cruz City Council who spoke during public comment.

UC Board of Regents Vice Chair Richard Lieb commended Larive on the process the campus went through in developing the plan, and addressed concerns raised about impacts and mitigation measures. “I want to reaffirm what our chair has said, as well as what you have said,” Lieb said, “which is that ... the mitigations contained in the document will be enforced and we will live by those documents.”

The UC Santa Cruz of the future will continue to be an extraordinary natural environment where students, faculty, and staff teach, learn, research, live, and work. The campus of 2040 will be more connected, functional and flexible, with facilities complementing the landscape — just as campus founders first imagined nearly 60 years ago. It is, and will continue to be, a place of resilience that advances innovation, inspires the next generation of leaders and innovators, and addresses society’s most challenging issues.

Based on campus and community feedback, the plan: 

  • Continues to embrace and respect the original vision for the campus. 
  • Advances a compact footprint for learning, research and housing spaces. 
  • Increases the campus natural reserve, used for ecological and educational purposes, while also promoting outdoor activities that contribute to health and wellness.
  • Proposes sites for up to four new residential colleges, advancing our unique and transformative residential college-system structure, which offers students the experience of a small liberal arts college with the depth and rigor of a major research university.
  • Expands housing for 100 percent of new full-time student enrollment above 19,500.
  • Includes housing for up to 25 percent of new employees, based on demand.
  • Improves circulation on campus with a focus on alternative modes of transportation to reduce single-occupancy car trips. 

UC Santa Cruz developed an extensive countywide outreach campaign to gather a wide range of perspectives on the plan. Campus formed a Community Advisory Group, made up of leaders from local government, the education sector, and neighborhood and community groups, some of whom have challenged the university on its long-range plans in the past. Public-input workshops were held, and an online public survey conducted. Three land-use planning workshops were held, followed by presentations on the proposed land-use map. Three scoping sessions in advance of developing the draft EIR were held in spring 2020. 

University of California policy requires each of its campuses to regularly update a long-range development plan. The exercise requires campuses to set specific parameters — a time horizon and an enrollment figure — to thoughtfully plan for the future.

Long-range development plans are sometimes mischaracterized as enrollment growth plans. In reality, decisions about enrollment are driven by many ongoing and evolving factors including student demand, state funding, and campus capacity.

UC Santa Cruz’s now approved plan will guide the campus through the next two decades and forecast what infrastructure and spaces the campus might need to serve up to 28,000 students, a figure that city and university leaders in the 1960s imagined the university reaching by 1990. A comprehensive plan, informed by feedback from the campus community, the general public, and the university’s large network of alumni and supporters helps current and future university leaders make good, comprehensive decisions.

“It’s impossible to fully predict university life 20 years from now,” Larive said. For example, the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are unknown, and they may lead to changes in campus operations, such as increased remote work for some employees and more online and hybrid instruction. “But it is prudent that our campus produces a well-thought-out roadmap that can serve as a guide regardless of what the year 2040 brings.”

Since its founding in 1965, UC Santa Cruz has been on an unprecedented trajectory, producing transformative research and scholarship that serves society while graduating more than 140,000 students who are making their own contributions locally, regionally and globally. UC Santa Cruz joined the Association of American Universities in 2019, an astonishing achievement for a university not even 60 years old, underscoring the impact and quality of the campus’ research as well as graduate and undergraduate teaching. UC Santa Cruz now shares the distinction of being the youngest member of this esteemed 66-member association and one of only four members that is also a Hispanic-serving institution.

Leading at the intersection of creativity, innovation and justice, UC Santa Cruz continues to draw students eager to create real, transformative change. The recognition and commitment to social justice has increased interest from prospective students. The diversity of the student population is growing, and each year the campus welcomes thousands of students who are from low-income backgrounds and who will be the first in their families to earn four-year degrees. This focus on opportunity and access serves California and defines the university’s mission.