Frequently Asked Questions


What is the mission of UCSC and what is its contribution to the greater community?

UCSC’s primary mission is to provide world-class educational and research opportunities for a diverse body of students from all over the state of California. The campus population reflects the strong diversity of California, and that diversity is an important piece of our mission to educate the citizens of this vibrant state — nurturing generations of bright minds and future leaders — while contributing world-class research that benefits society at large.

UC Santa Cruz has been an integral part of the Santa Cruz community for more than half a century. UCSC faculty, staff, and students work tirelessly to balance the university’s educational mission with its responsibility to support, enrich, and protect the health and well-being of our community and region. UCSC strives to make a positive impact on the local economy, culture, and resources — and in turn, the community provides extraordinary experiences and opportunities for our Banana Slug family. Woven together, these threads of campus and community form a single, strong bond of caring and commitment — we are Better Together.


What is a Long Range Development Plan?

A Long Range Development Plan, or LRDP, is a general framework to guide the physical development of the campus. All UC campuses are required by the UC Board of Regents to prepare an LRDP. Similar to a city’s general plan, the LRDP is a comprehensive plan that designates campus areas for certain types of uses, such as housing, classrooms, recreation, and open space. In addition to addressing land use designations, it guides the development of circulation, parking, infrastructure, and other land uses to facilitate the appropriate siting of capital projects.

Notably, an LRDP is not an approval to develop any particular building or facility, nor does it mandate enrollment growth. It is an important planning tool to ensure a well-thought-out campus design, support our academic and research mission, and facilitate the university’s goal to successfully educate students.

The UCSC LRDP currently being prepared will guide the physical development of the Main Residential Campus and the Westside Research Park through 2040. For the next opportunity to participate and provide feedback, please see the schedule.

Are all UC campuses required to have an LRDP?

Yes, all UC campuses are required by the UC Board of Regents to prepare an LRDP. Each campus’ LRDP can be found here.

Who approves the final plan?

Each UC campus is required to create a LRDP, and the LRDP must be approved by the UC Board of Regents. In addition, for each LRDP, UC is required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that analyzes and discloses the physical environmental impacts associated with the proposed LRDP. LRDP EIRs are certified by the UC Regents in support of the approval of an LRDP.


Who has been involved in the planning process?

Preparation of the LRDP is a collaborative process among the UC Regents, UC Santa Cruz, and the on-campus and off-campus communities. Students, faculty, staff, and community members have been integral partners in the planning process since work began in the Fall of 2017. Creating a comprehensive long-range plan requires participation and collaboration from multiple perspectives — vital components for a healthy process to which UCSC is committed. To ensure a holistic process, numerous committees and work groups were assembled and met throughout the planning phases to provide feedback and shape the vision for the campus. In addition, UCSC conducted campus and community workshops on multiple occasions.

The LRDP Planning Committee, made up of students, staff, faculty, and community members, oversees the LRDP process with the assistance of campus staff and the consultant team. A Community Advisory Group was formed to advise on critical community perspectives, and Expert Work Groups focusing on specific technical areas collaborated to identify key goals and strategies in the areas of transportation, carbon and energy, housing, and ecology. More information on who was involved in the planning process can be found here.

Open community forums held at critical milestones sought broader engagement from the public, with content focused specifically on issues, ideas, and priorities. This inclusive approach framed the work and influenced the direction of the LRDP. Resources from these workshops can be found here.

What do the student enrollment numbers used in planning mean?

The LRDP process requires UC campuses to project the potential maximum student enrollment increases during the planning period, in this plan through 2040. For the purposes of physical planning, the new LRDP is based on a potential, gradual student growth up to a maximum of 28,000 by 2040. The LRDP does not mandate this growth — or any growth at all — instead, it uses that maximum number to determine space needs, infrastructure projections, and other requirements for planning purposes.

Actual student enrollment is determined by a variety of factors, including the state’s assessment of need for public university education, the potential capacity of each campus, the availability of and interest in specific programs, and the individual decisions of potential students. Enrollment is often lower than the projected enrollment used for planning purposes; in fact, the 2005 LRDP projected a maximum enrollment of 19,500 in 2020, but current enrollment is roughly 18,500. The student enrollment reflects the campus’ commitment to continue to provide top-tier, higher education access for California’s young people – enhancing diversity, producing talented workers to fuel economic growth, and providing a path for social mobility.

Will campus invest in more infrastructure to support teaching, learning, research and the overall student experience?

UC Santa Cruz is committed to providing adequate infrastructure — including student housing — to facilitate world-class teaching, learning, and research and to optimize the experience of our students. To that end, the LRDP describes up to 3 million (assignable) square feet for Academic and Support space, which includes classrooms, research labs, faculty offices, and libraries, as well as student support services and public amenities. The LRDP also anticipates 2.5 million (assignable) square feet of student and employee housing on campus, which is adequate to house 100% of new students above 19,500, as well as up to 25% of employees, based on demand. While the LRDP designates land to accommodate these projected facilities, each specific capital project would be listed in the campus’ Ten Year Capital Financial Plan and go through a project-specific approval process.

What is the process to identify environmental impacts of the 2021 LRDP?

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) will describe the physical environmental impacts associated with the LRDP across various topics and includes mitigation measures to reduce or avoid potentially significant impacts. UCSC anticipates that the DEIR will be released in early 2021. CEQA requires that the DEIR be available for public comment for a minimum of 45 days; during this time, the campus will hold public meetings to share the identified draft impacts and findings associated with the plan and to receive input, comments, and suggestions from stakeholders and the community.

Will campus plans affect water demand?

UCSC is committed to sustainably managing water resources. To that end, UCSC has markedly improved water conservation, reducing campus water use by 36% percent over the last 15 years per weighted campus user (which is similar to per capita but just weighted to account for residents vs non-residents.) Currently, the campus’ potable water demand accounts for approximately 6% of the Santa Cruz Water District supply.

In response to the 2013 to 2016 drought, UCSC implemented conservation projects that achieved reductions of 22 to 28% from the 2012-2013 peak season baseline, primarily attributable to reductions in landscape and turf irrigation; adoption of web-based water management systems; and extensive campus outreach and engagement to promote conservation.

Under the new LRDP, the campus is committed to continuing to reduce potable water demand. Developing non-potable water sources on campus has been a critical step in reducing reliance on potable water sources, including continuing stormwater and rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing and irrigation needs, and exploring use of non-potable recycled water (as is currently included in the planned Student Housing West project.)

The campus is also guided by UC and campus policies that establish aggressive goals for reducing water demand. The UC Sustainable Practices policy calls for all campuses to reduce growth-adjusted potable water consumption by 36% by 2025, a milestone that the UCSC campus continues to meet. More information on additional goals for reducing water demand can be found here.

Will campus plans affect housing in the community?

UCSC currently houses more than 50% of its enrolled students on campus, which is one of the highest percentages of any UC campus. With the new LRDP, the campus proposes to provide on-campus housing for all newly enrolled students above 19,500. In addition, the campus proposes providing on-campus housing for up to 25% of new employees, based on demand.

By housing more students on campus, UCSC aims to minimize housing impacts in the community and optimize the students’ experiences; living proximate to classrooms and student support services found in the campus core has been associated with greater student success. It will also have other environmental benefits, including a de crease in vehicle trips and associated emissions and traffic.

Will the LRDP affect trips to and from campus?

Over the course of the last 15 years, the campus has been successful in reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicle trips to and from campus. 61 percent of all passenger (people) trips to campus are by alternative transportation, including biking, walking, transit, carpooling, vanpools, and teleworking. Since 2016, more than one quarter of all individuals (26 percent) who have come to campus have arrived on a Santa Cruz Metro bus. The number of vehicle trips to the UC Santa Cruz campus is roughly the same as 20 years ago, despite increases in on-campus population. These results are due to intentional planning that promoted increased transit ridership and improved bicycle facilities.

As the campus grows, the LRDP envisions an integrated transportation strategy that focuses on reduced dependence on single-occupancy vehicles and provides better connectivity for all forms of mobility. Toward that end, the LRDP includes the following physical planning principles, among others: consolidate parking at the periphery of the academic core; prioritize efficient transit access and routes; expand comprehensive program of travel demand management to incentivize alternative modes of travel; strive to provide equal access throughout campus, extend the pattern of east-west pedestrian paths, improve existing pathways to reinforce walkability. The proposed on-campus housing in the LRDP for both students and employees will also significantly reduce vehicle trips on and off campus.

How will campus plans allow for use of campus for recreational activities like mountain biking, hiking etc.?

The campus is a public resource open to the surrounding community as well as the campus community, and will continue to be a resource for recreational activities under the new LRDP. The campus is uniquely sited between multiple state and city parks. Bicycles continue to be permitted on fire roads to help facilitate regional connections with adjacent parks.

The campus has always balanced environmental stewardship and conservation of natural resources with recreation and will continue to do so. The LRDP includes an integrated transportation strategy to optimize through-campus routes for better connectivity throughout campus while continuing to prioritize access for student research areas and responsible care of the land, including erosion and stormwater management strategies.

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