Majority Report | January 17-23 2018

Special for BrattonOnLine

The notion that we’re going to cap enrollment and live with a capped enrollment is simply not realistic in the world we live in,” (UCSC Chancellor George) Blumenthal said at a news meeting Thursday. “I think it’s a pipe dream, because the demand for the UC education is increasing by leaps and bounds.”

–Santa Cruz Sentinel, 1-12-18 (http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/social-affairs/20180112/ucsc-planning-for-10000-more-students-by-2040)

We call it a moratorium, you call it a cap, let’s call the whole thing off!

UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal named the elephant in the room last week and yes, it’s a 10,000-pound one! In a community of 60,000, ten thousand more students are really a lot. You heard right, Blumenthal’s opening salvo at our UCSC-city community is a Long-Range Development Plan that will add a whopping 10,000 additional bodies to Santa Cruz and grow the university to 28,000. Will Santa Cruz will become a university with a city somewhere on the campus? Will campus growth effectively create a Town dressed up and encased in a towering Gown? Twenty-eight thousand is a figure not even envisioned by the most dreamy and visionary planners way back in the day. (http://www.cityonahillpress.com/2016/05/14/ucscs-blueprint/) The 28,000 number seems to have been thrown out by an ambivalent bureaucracy that is playing perhaps an unwitting part in the deterioration of a once great coastal town. Administrators on the hill are either afraid to tell their bosses in Oakland the hard truth that there is no more room at the inn, or they are just resigned to a different truth that California students must go somewhere so why not here? Perhaps, this figure is an early trial balloon, put out by the administration to see how much pushback there might be by townies, student activists, county supervisors, and city councilmembers? No one I know does not want all California children to experience a UC education, but this UC city is maxed out. There are nine other campuses and the state legislature ought to be planning for even more. The city of Santa Cruz, given its size, resources, and carrying capacity has reached its limit. No más after 19,500.

T-W-E-N-T-Y E-I-G-H-T T-H-O-U-S-A-N-D Students?

I’m a member of CAG, the Community Advisory Group of 22 that was set up by the university to advise on the 2020 LRDP process. The LRDP is the university’s “general plan” document and its begun in earnest some two years before it is due to be submitted to the UC Regents. Chancellor Blumenthal and his assistant, Executive Vice Chancellor, Marlene Tromp who is mostly responsible for the UCSC budget, spoke to our group last Friday and dropped the bombshell: T-W-E-N-T-Y-E-I-G-H-T T-H-O-U-S-A-N-D. It was not received well by most of the CAG. Although the Chancellor offered an olive branch when he said, “This needs to be a meaningful group (CAG) that provides meaningful input,” and then proceeded to pan the 2005 UCSC administration for not asking for enough community involvement back then. Blumenthal said, “I was struck by how little input there was from the community, it showed a lack of sensitivity on the part of campus.” Strong sentiments. I’m glad he wants to know our perspective, but those present wondered in various ways if things would be any different this time around, and if our community input would actually be taken seriously. After Blumenthal and Tromp left the room the CAG members were directed to pair up “with someone you don’t know,” and discuss our “core concerns” and be ready to report back to the group what those concerns are. We were limited to three. I immediately sought out someone who I thought might be my political opposite and there across the room was the former Sentinel editor, California secretary of state, assembly member, and current member of the Santa Cruz board of supervisors, Bruce McPherson. Turns out he and I share some similar concerns about university growth. We both liked it that the “U” wanted the community engaged in the LRDP process, but we were surprised by the 10,000-growth figure and wondered if it was simply a negotiating tool. Both of us agreed we want to see what resources UC will contribute to support these students before they arrive to our community. Financial resources that would cover their growth in the areas of housing, transportation, and water McPherson said. Moving around the large set of tables that formed a horseshoe at the Museum of Art and History downtown, each CAG member stated their “core concerns,” and they didn’t sound too supportive of growing the university more. I note a few of those concerns here:

Ted Benhari of Bonny Doon and the Committee to Limit University Growth (CLUE) said his concerns were the “quality of life impacts on the community and maintaining the urban services line…” Bill Tysseling, retired and the former Exec. Dir. of SC Chamber of Commerce said, “Funding of infrastructure, and an eastern access [road] has to occur or we have to keep everyone on campus.” Cynthia Mathews, Santa Cruz city councilmember noted that “UCSC will completely dominate…basically you will have a company town. We need to avoid a monoculture.” John Aird, Healthcare Executive and CLUE member was emphatic, “Fifty-percent growth is flat-out unacceptable.” Andy Schiffrin an Aide in Supervisor Ryan Coonerty’s office and also a Santa Cruz political observer for over 40 years said, “Input is meaningless without accountability…it would take a legislative solution…it’s a political problem that we have…” Robert Orriza said the university must “stop growth until beds are on-line because the currently planned 3000 beds will not be going in until 2020, so don’t grow anymore until those are in place.”

“An LRDP is like a city’s general plan. It designates areas of campus for certain types of use: open space, for example, or housing. It does not mandate growth.” (my emphasis) (https://news.ucsc.edu/2018/01/lrdp-update.html)

–Chancellor George Blumenthal, Jan. 12, 2018

Pipe Dreams Revisited: “Ain’t no power like the power of the people and the power of the people don’t stop!

The community is calling for a moratorium on student growth until city services can catch up in the areas of housing, traffic, and water infrastructure. A five-year moratorium sounds about right. Blumenthal was quoted in the Santa Cruz Sentinel last week calling a cap on enrollment “a pipe dream.” Well, since we have a lot of dreamers in this town, we get called a lot of names. Pipe dreams are something we know about. Stopping a good-ole-boy convention hotel on Lighthouse Field was once considered a pipe dream; voters dreamed of approving the purchase of greenbelt lands–a choice of taxing ourselves to buy open space was pipe dreamy; stopping developers from building 10,000 units on Wilder Ranch was at first an activist pipe dream; preserving the Beach Flats Community Garden for the community is still in the “pipe dream” stages, a work in progress. And of course, there was everybody’s favorite little pipe dream that would just not go away, the legalization of first, medical marijuana and now complete legalization. Some pipe dreams just will not die. This community’s been known to dream big. One might also ask which is the bigger pipe dream, a moratorium on accepting more students beyond the current cap of 19,500, or allowing ten thousand additional bodies to migrate here from all parts of California and beyond, to an already crowded Surf City? Will they be told there is no more housing here? Hey Regents, game on.

Bernie Tweet of the Week

“Republicans in Congress must now summon the courage to stand up to the racist ramblings of our “stable genius” president. Democratic and Republican senators must continue efforts to produce a bi-partisan Dream Act to be voted on by the Senate as part of the overall budget deal.” (Jan. 12)

Two Photos of the Week

Cooper Street closed for the large march on MLK Day! Over 2000 marched.

Super community activist, Ernestina Saldana holds her “Bell of Freedom” award, given to her this past Sunday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Justly and richly deserved. Si se puede!

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