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City of Goleta plans to sue UCSB for failing to provide adequate student housing

GOLETA, Calif. – The City of Goleta says it will file a lawsuit against UC Santa Barbara for not providing ample student housing for its rapidly growing student population.

The plans were announced Friday at a public city meeting.

Goleta mayor Paula Perotte said she was disappointed and that the city has reached "a breaking point."

Perotte said USCB has failed to meet its obligations under a 2010 agreement to provide housing to its student body, and Goleta has been tasked with bearing the brunt of the housing crisis.

The agreement was put in place in 2010 after UCSB announced plans to admit more students. As part of the agreement, UCSB pledged to develop more student housing.

The lawsuit will allege that UCSB has failed to provide student housing for its increasing student population, violating the 2010 agreement.

UCSB has long had a shortage of housing available for incoming freshmen and returning students. Earlier this year, the university began housing students at area hotels, which the city said deprives the local government of transient occupancy tax revenue that would normally come from visitors.

Additionally, representatives for the city said, many of the community's available housing has been taken by UCSB students, putting increased demand on housing and keeping working class families unable to find homes where they live and work.

The increased enrollment also is taxing for the city's public resources and services, the city alleges.

Housing at UC Santa Barbara has been a topic of national headlines this week after outrage circulated over a proposed mega-dorm on campus. The proposed Munger Hall is a 4,500-unit dormitory which has been criticized for its design which features only two exits and virtually no windows in individual dorm rooms.

Hundreds of students rallied against the proposed dormitory Friday morning. Many students also carried signs to advocate for the hundreds of students placed in hotels who face eviction in December.

The Santa Barbara chapter of the American Institute of Architects says it "emphatically rejects" the Munger Hall plan. UCSB said it is still moving forward with plans to build the dorm, despite the criticism.

But Perotte said the uncertainty surrounding the housing project indicates there may be no end in sight for the shortage of student housing.

The city said in a statement:

"After a decade of UCSB’s failure to satisfy its obligations and the negative repercussions on the City, the City has determined that it is necessary to file a lawsuit in order to preserve its rights and require UCSB to finally take meaningful responsibility for the impacts it has created. "

Statement from the City of Goleta

We contacted UC Santa Barbara for comment and received the following statement:

"The University has not seen the lawsuit yet but is deeply disappointed that the City of Goleta felt it necessary to resort to divisive litigation that forces both parties to spend public funds in this manner. The courts are not always the best place to resolve disputes, but when parties are entrenched in their individual positions, it may best be left to the courts to determine the merits of the respective legal arguments.

The University has never exceeded the enrollment target set forth in the LRDP settlement agreement. With the Sierra Madre housing development in the 2015-16 academic year the University added 515 student beds, and added another 1,000 student beds in the 2016-17 academic year with the San Joaquin housing development.

The University hopes the most efficient resolution of this dispute can be achieved so all energies can be devoted to serving California students and families and supporting the community through transformative research endeavors."

Andrea Estrada, Director of News and Media Relations

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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