Photo: Ramon Rovirosa
This past July, the UC Regents reviewed and approved a proposal to install new housing developments intended to accommodate the influx of undergraduates over the next fifteen years.
Part of the proposal calls for the construction of a new housing development adjacent to the Santa Catalina dorms. The Long Range Development Plan is in the pre-design phase, which entails the projection of costs and the architectural and engineering requirements for the plan.
Construction, scheduled to begin in the spring of 2014, is projected to take two years, and should be ready to open by the fall of 2016.
The housing project will offer many opportunities for residents. According to Willie Brown, Executive Director of Housing and Residential Services, San Joaquin, is the first set of residential units that will be constructed. As far as its contribution to the community, it “will add to the vitality of this western portion of our campus” said Brown.
Apart from the addition of apartments meant to house up to 1,200 freshmen and sophomores, the development will also include ample room for parking for drivers, as well as bikers, a convenient location for bus access, and additional dining facilities. Meanwhile, Santa Catalina’s dining commons will undergo renovation to make room for a new complex, part of San Joaquin, geared toward fulfilling the community’s recreational and academic needs.
Presumably, the development will require a substantial sum of money and time and the exact costs for this project have yet to be determined. That said, students who are worried about possible increases in fees and tuition may rest assured that no university funds are being used for this venture. Instead, revenue from board and rent will cover the costs of construction and general operations.
Chuck Haines, Director of Capital Development at UCSB, believes the development will be greatly beneficial to the constantly growing community and is confident that San Joaquin has the necessary support needed by the board to be executed thoroughly and on time. “I assure you that a great deal of thinking has been put into this project,” Haines said, “Mainly from the perspective of what is the right site and how can we continue to improve the residential experience at UCSB.”
While planning is still in the early stages of development, students already have spoken out upon hearing news of the project. “San Joaquin is going to be a great addition to Housing,” said AS On Campus Representative and second-year political science major Jonathan Abboud, when asked whether this development would be a positive or negative addition. “Right now, there is not much for the residents of Santa Catalina; San Joaquin will change that by adding stores and entertainment.”
Upon passing the measure, the UC Regents plan to accomplish a lot with the execution of the Long Range Development Plan. Additions of coffee houses, high tech lounges, and outdoor recreational spaces will enhance the residential atmosphere and potentially make students more comfortable and satisfied with their daily routine.
“My view is that this can only be positive,” said Brown. “We can provide a four year residential experience for undergraduates. We can expand our existing centers of learning and excellence. We can change the nature of the student experience.”