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UC Santa Barbara gets green light on Ocean Road Housing Project

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara in May received the green light to move forward on a new 540-unit residential housing project for faculty and staff as the university and surrounding college town continue to struggle with a mounting housing crisis.

A UC Regents committee approved the project at a May 18 meeting, and the development will include 360 for-rent and 180 for-sale units at "rates significantly below current market values" once completed, according to UCSB spokeswoman Shelly Leachman.

Building plans include a combination of stacked townhomes and apartments in various configurations and sizes, as well as retail space on the ground floor, Leachman said.

The building will sit along the Ocean Road corridor that runs between the Isla Vista college town and campus, a 16-acre parcel that extends from El Colegio Road to the coastline.

While the regents just recently approved the project's business terms and environmental review, the Ocean Road project was originally introduced and approved as part of the university's 2010 Long-Range Development Plan (LRDP).

The LRDP requires the university to build more student and faculty housing to keep up with its growing campus population, while also capping enrollment at 25,000 students through the year 2025.

UCSB faced harsh backlash from its surrounding community last year as students struggling to find housing took to living in their cars or in nearby hotels. The crisis mounted enough community frustration that the city of Goleta filed a lawsuit against the university for not providing adequate housing.

The Ocean Road Housing Project aims to alleviate some of that housing crunch by providing additional faculty and staff units.

The project requires a reconfiguration of Ocean Road and demolition of the existing Student Health Building, which will be replaced in a future project by a new facility, according to a UC Regents staff report.

An enhanced network of pedestrian and bike pathways between the main campus and adjacent to Isla Vista is also included in the project, according to the report.

Constructed in two phases, phase 1 of the project includes around 120 rental homes, 23,600 gross square feet of retail space, and roughly 142 for-sale townhomes, the staff report said. Phase 2 will include around 240 rental homes, up to 9,500 gross square feet of retail space, and around 38 for-sale townhomes.

Pending remaining approvals, groundbreaking on the project is expected to begin in the summer of 2023, with the first for-sale units anticipated to come online in mid-to-late 2024, according to Leachman.

Click here for more information about the project.

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Jade Martinez-Pogue

Jade Martinez-Pogue is the Assignment Editor and web journalist at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Jade, click here

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