Specifics of the UC Santa Cruz Agreement with City, County and Citizen Plaintiffs

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday August 14, 2008 - 12:36:00 PM

Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty said the agreement just signed by his community’s UC campus, Santa Cruz County and citizen litigants “all boils down to housing, water and traffic.” 

One of the major concessions hailed by the city is the university’s agreement to submit its expansion plans to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), which looks at regional as well as specific development impacts. 

Details of the pact were spelled out in the text released Wednesday by City Attorney John G. Barisone follow. 



The settlement agreement caps undergraduate enrollment at 17,500, with the total undergraduate enrollment established for planning purposes at 19,480 by the fall 2020, and to immediately begin planning for new housing on the university’s west campus. 

The university agreed to provide 7,125 on-campus beds for enrollment up to 15,000 students, and provide beds for two out of every three students enrolled above that level. Actual housing construction has a four-year permissible lag through 2018 and two years thereafter.  

Housing construction could be suspended if a survey determines Santa Cruz housing is the most expensive in the UC system and exceeds the statewide average by more than 10 percent. The housing obligation would also be suspended in the event construction was stalled by a legal action or failure to act by another public agency.  

The university also agreed to limit construction of new off-campus needs within the city itself to 225, not including the beds the university now leases at two facilities in town. The university could build replacements for the leased housing should it end its agreements with the UCSC Inn and University Town Center. 

The university also agreed to pay the city a $199 housing impact fee for every university-owned or leased bed that results in a tax loss to the city, though the funds must be spent on public services that benefit the university’s off-campus population. 

The university also agreed to consult with the city and provide written notification of any intent to buy property within city limits. The school also agreed to construct any new high density housing within the limits set by the city zoning code. 

The Coalition to Limit University Expansion (CLUE)—a citizen group that participated in the legal action—would retain its right to participate in the LAFCO proceedings and to file litigation challenging the agency’s ultimate decision.  

But the university won the concession that an application to LAFCO isn’t a concession that the university is subject to its jurisdiction, reserving the right to asset exemption or immunity if any terms of a LAFCO decision prove unacceptable. The city, county, CLUE and other litigants reserve their right to charge that the university isn’t exempt. 

Any legal action challenging LAFCO’s decision would result in automatic suspension of the university’s housing commitments until the litigation is resolved, and the university reserved the right to develop the north campus area now outside city limits—though any of the parties could file a legal challenge to the university’s actions. 

The university also reserved the right to assert development rights on the north campus area should any of several eventualities arise, including LAFCO’s denial of the university’s application, imposition of conditions the university declares unacceptable, if LAFCO takes more than 18 months to decide, or if the city fails to amend its sphere of influence. The plaintiffs similarly reserved their right to file legal challenges in the event the university does act unilaterally. 

The university and city also agreed to equally fund two code enforcement officer positions for five years as a pilot program to increase the rental safety and code compliance by landlords within the city. 



In the controversial area of water use—the most limited resource in a coastal region with no ties to the state water system—the university agreed to extend the city’s legal sphere of interest into all of the area encompassed by the 2020 LRDP’s EIR at the moment the universities submits an application to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO). The city would simultaneously apply for an extended sphere of influence, with both actions to take place by Oct. 28. 

For every 85,000 gallons a year above the LRDP’s 2005 baseline of 206 million gallons, the university will pay the city its standard system development fee, currently $6,530, to finance construction of public facilities to provide for non-drought-year water needs on the main campus. Should the city declare a water shortage emergency, the university agrees to cap its water use as long as the moratorium exists. 

The university agreed to implement within five years all the high priority water conservation measures proposed by a campus engineering audit conducted last year.  



When traffic levels near target levels set in the agreement, the university agreed to begin a public process to reduce the average daily trip (ADT) number. Each excess trip above target levels would result in payment of a $1,098 traffic impact fee to the city, an amount three times the standard fee of $366. Fees would be used to fund joint town/gown trip reduction programs. 

Main campus average daily trips would be capped at 28,700, 3,900 more than the 2005 total of 24,800 used as a baseline through the plan’s life. The number would rise to 30,000 if the university is blocked from developing the north campus area, with the university paying the standard rather than the tripled fee for new trips below the 30,000 limit.  

The university would also receive an ADT credit to the extent the Santa Cruz Municipal Transit District fails to increase bus or other transit service to levels needed to accommodate at least 25 percent of daily trips to campus.  

The university reserved the right to either pay ADT fees for the 3,900 permitted new trips incrementally or by a one-time $1.4 million payment within 15 days of the final entry of the settlement. ADT funds would be allocated for improvement to a major artery to the campus (Bay Corridor) and intersections identified by the city as impacted by university traffic. 

The university agreed to separate ADT payments for two buildings it now owns in the city amounting to $418,869 for 2007-2008 and would pay more if the buildings are converted to higher density uses. 

The university also agreed to work with the city to implement a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system and other alternative forms of transit aimed at reducing peak-hour car traffic and to work to develop other forms of sustainable transportation. 

The university will pay up to $50,000 a year for three years to inaugurate an off-campus parking permit program, pay additional fees for widening Mission St. and fund all the costs of improvements at two other intersections.