Proposed UCSC growth will further overwhelm community

Morgan Bostic

APR. 13, 2020

On April 8 at 5 p.m., despite the upheaval and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 health crisis, UC Santa Cruz ended the public scoping period on the draft 2020-2040 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

On April 8 at 5 p.m., despite the upheaval and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 health crisis, UC Santa Cruz ended the public scoping period on the draft 2020-2040 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

The draft 2020-2040 UCSC Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) proposes to increase student enrollment by nearly 50% to 28,000 students, without a legally- binding commitment to grow ONLY when the on and off-campus infrastructure (including on-campus housing) required to support the growth is provided.

While the University insists this increase is merely a “forecast,” in fact it’s a legally binding plan and the Land Use Map contained in the LRDP shows the areas where the facilities to support this growth will be located. The current 2005-2020 LRDP caps enrollment at 19,500 students. The University must adopt a new LRDP before enrollment may exceed this number and will give them the legal ability to grow to this level.

Unfortunately, the University is not subject to either City or County land use controls. However, before the Regents can adopt the draft LRDP they need to certify an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). This EIR must contain an analysis of the potentially significant impacts of the proposed LRDP, impose mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate the significant impacts, and consider reasonable alternatives to the Plan.

The proposed LRDP will likely have a dramatic impact on the lives of everyone who calls Santa Cruz home.


• Members of this community who already cannot afford the ever-increasing cost of living in Santa Cruz,

• Residents with concerns about their commute and traffic generally,

• Those worried about the worsening threat of wildfire and the necessity of safe evacuation routes.


• Residents concerned with the reality of climate change and the importance of institutions, like UCSC, adhering to or exceeding sustainability commitments.

• Community members who simply want to ensure the efficiency of their public services.

For all in Santa Cruz, UCSC’S draft LRDP represents a seismic threat to basic services, traffic and housing availability.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires meaningful public participation in the draft LRDP’s EIR process. The first opportunity for public input occurs during what’s called the scoping period, which follows the University’s release of a public notice starting the EIR process. The scoping period is normally 30 days and it is the time for anyone to tell the university what should be included in the EIR – what impacts need to be evaluated, and what mitigation measures and alternatives considered. In response to the health crisis, the University extended this comment period one week to April 8. This was inadequate. During this coronavirus emergency period, citizens and institutions are focused almost solely on surviving the crisis. The limited comment period allowed by the University during the height of the emergency will likely yield unrepresentative public participation and, potentially, an inadequate EIR.

We hope you will join us, if you are able, in urging the University to extend the opportunity for Santa Cruz residents to participate meaningfully in this stage of the EIR process. In addition, we encourage you to tell UCSC how the proposed expansion will affect you, share ways the issues you foresee can be mitigated, and propose alternatives that will better preserve our community. You can send an email with your comments to eircomment@ ucsc.edu.

The Santa Cruz City-County Task Force To Address UCSC Growth is a body of elected public officials concerned about proposed UCSC expansion. And if you would like to join our effort or would just like more information on this issue, visit www.ActOnUCSCGrowth. org. Morgan Bostic is an advocate for Santa Cruz City-County Task Force To Address UCSC Growth.