Regents overwhelmingly approve campus long-term development plan

To: UCSC Community

From: Chancellor Cindy Larive

Four years ago we began work on our Long Range Development Plan. It is a blueprint for future physical development on our campus, painting in broad strokes how our main campus and Westside Research Park might develop over the next two decades. The plan identifies where students, staff and faculty could be housed, where new spaces for learning and research could be created, and what land should be off-limits to construction.

I am delighted to pass along the news that the UC Board of Regents earlier today overwhelmingly endorsed our vision, unanimously approving our 2021 Long Range Development Plan. The vote capped years of collaboration and brainstorming, covering thousands of hours of work by campus planners and leaders plus extensive input from campus and community members that resulted in significant changes to our initial plan.

Even with the approval, though, our work is not finished. We will continue to collaborate with the city’s and county’s elected officials to balance the need for educational access for California’s next generation of leaders with community concerns, particularly around housing, traffic, and water. I am convinced that we can both fulfill our mission to serve California while also reaching agreement with government leaders on a framework to thoughtfully implement the plan. We have long been a good neighbor to the city and county, and that will continue. We are truly better when we work in unison.

The plan respects the original vision for our campus, which opened in 1965, and is shaped by substantial feedback from our community partners. Among the LRDP highlights:

  • It utilizes a compact footprint for learning, research and housing spaces.
  • It proposes sites for up to four new residential colleges, advancing our unique residential college-system structure.
  • It expands housing for 100 percent of new full-time student enrollment above 19,500. We are currently at about 18,500 students.
  • It includes housing for up to 25 percent of new employees, with more housing possible if demand rises.
  • It increases campus natural reserve space, which is used for ecological, educational and recreational purposes.
  • It improves circulation on campus with new bikeways and pedestrian paths, focusing on alternative modes of transportation to reduce single-occupancy car trips.

This plan approval is a milestone for our campus. It will guide us through the next two decades, providing us a framework to support students who in most cases have yet to be born. The campus 20 years into the future could serve up to 28,000 students, a figure that city and university leaders in the 1960s imagined the university reaching by 1990. It is important to caution, however, that the LRDP is not an enrollment plan. It details where campus facilities would go should growth occur. Decisions about enrollment are driven by many factors including demand, state funding, and campus capacity. Regental approval today does not authorize any particular project to go forward. Any project would need its own approval process and environmental review. What it does do is help current and future university leaders make good, comprehensive decisions, and I am excited that the Regents fully endorsed our vision.

Many of you reading this message are new to our campus. We are thrilled to have you. Please know that this plan, which addresses our long-range future, is far from all that we are working on to provide for our students. We are moving dirt right now on an expansive project that will increase academic space, rehab some existing classrooms, and add nearly 200 beds at Kresge College, and we are exploring options that could add hundreds of more beds. The UC Regents earlier this year approved our Student Housing West project, which will allow us to build 3,000 or so additional on-campus beds for existing students. Opponents, however, continue to challenge the project in court, stalling its construction. We remain optimistic that reason will prevail and that we will be able to move forward with this important project so desperately needed by our students and the community.

UC Santa Cruz is on an extraordinary trajectory and continues to receive research, education and social-impact accolades that should make every Californian proud. This plan lays a strong foundation for an even brighter future for our campus, protecting what is special about our campus and showing us to be a good community partner.