call to action


ATTEND THE LAFCO MEETING ON DEC 5 at 9:30am.  County Building 5th floor, 901 Ocean St., corner Water St.

Spread the word! Download and post the poster at left.

The roadblock to UCSC expansion into 240 acres of UC Nature Preserve is a little known government agency known as LAFCO: Local Agency Formation Commission. California legislation set up LAFCO’s in each county in the 1960’s as a way to prevent urban sprawl. UCSC’s planned expansion into undeveloped forest is exactly the kind of sprawl LAFCO was set up to regulate.

LAFCO’s policy is that no water service boundaries can be extended without an adequate water supply.  The Environmental Impact Report and federal and state fisheries agencies have made it clear that Santa Cruz does not have an adequate water supply. The National Marine Fisheries Service wrote to LAFCO, “It does not appear that current water supplies are sufficient to meet demand and protect listed salmonids, let alone allow for increased demands resulting from expansion of the City’s service area.” [emphasis in original]

Previous votes of LAFCO Commissioners, Don Lane, Mayor of Santa Cruz, and  Neal Coonerty, County Supervisor, have indicated a willingness to approve the UCSC application for water service extension despite the inadequate water supply. Lane and Coonerty may have reasoned that a desalination plant will resolve the inadequate water supply. With the 71% voter approval of Measure P (no desal without a vote of the people), the future of the desalination plant is in doubt.  These LAFCO Commissioners can no longer look to desal to resolve the water shortage.

We need to let LAFCO Commissioners know that we support their policy of no water service extensions without an adequate water supply. And if any Commissioners are thinking that the greater public good would be served by making an exception to that policy and approving the UCSC application, we need to demonstrate that whatever goals may be achieved by campus expansion into the Nature Reserve, it is not worth the cost to the forest, the salmon and steelhead, nor existing water customers affected by increased demands on an inadequate water supply.

Please write an email to LAFCO, expressing your support for protecting the Nature Reserve and native salmon. A sample letter is below. Brief is good—the main goal is to show that we are paying attention to their decision.

Dear LAFCO Commissioners,

I support your policy of no water service extensions without an adequate water supply. Please do not make an exception to this policy in the case of the UCSC application. There are many ways that the UC system can accomplish its educational goals without adding further stress to endangered species or developing a valuable portion of the Nature Reserve.

Respectfully yours,


2 responses to “call to action

  1. Hey y’all….as a heavily involved student leader on campus, I totally appreciate the intention enthusiasm behind this movement but I take issue with a major aspect of this campaign.

    I don’t feel that you are being truly honest to students with the information on this page. The Long-Range-Development-Plan(LRDP) that is referred to is NOTHING NEW. This has been around perhaps since the creation of UCSC nearly 50 years ago. Furthermore, there is no discussion in the administration of developing ANY of upper campus in the foreseeable future with the exception of a social sciences building between Crown/Merrill and C9/10. So, providing numbers such as the development of 240 acres and 3,000,000 square feet in relation to the construction of 1 new building seems exceptionally dishonest. If this petition was a general response to the LRDP that has been around for a long time, I wouldn’t have this issue. Please, don’t buy into the alarmist political tactics that politicians use on us. It’s not fair and it’s not the path to virtuous leadership.

    Thank you,

    Chad Oliver

  2. Dear Chad,

    Thank you very much for your comment. Although it is always difficult to condense a complex issue into a short format, we do not want to deceive anyone. We hope more people will ask questions and read the current LRDP (along with past LRDPs) for themselves. Information is key!

    You are correct that the campus has had Long Range Development Plans for decades. However, the content of those plans has differed wildly through time (see past plans at the library). Some have been significantly less expansionist than the current plan, others even more expansionist. Each LRDP has articulated a different vision for UCSC.

    We feel that the current LRDP articulates a vision for UCSC that is both ecologically and educationally flawed. We are confident that an innovative institution like UCSC (with a stated commitment to environmental sustainability) can build a much better plan than the current LRDP.

    The current LRDP was designed in 2003-04 and published in 2005. This plan is designed to guide campus development until 2020. The LRDP (available via this link: clearly shows the university’s plans for expansion in upper campus regions. (Please also see the maps on our website, under the “maps” tab.) In its applications to LAFCO (county-level governmental body) for extraterritorial water service, UCSC has indicated that it seeks a 240-acre development footprint (see “North Campus” documents on the LAFCO website: The 3 million square feet statistic also comes directly from university-published materials. Far from being alarmist, we are only using the figures straight out of current public documents.

    University administrators obviously do not plan to construct all proposed buildings immediately. The initial plans called for the buildings to be constructed by 2020, but delays in implementation have made this timeline virtually impossible. In the past, other LRDP plans have also not been fully implemented.

    However, all the information that we have indicates that the
    administration has its sights squarely set on building in upper campus. The university would simply not jump through all kinds of legal hoops – including costly lawsuits – unless they are serious about proposed plans to expand into these natural areas. Social Sciences 3 is the first upper campus project that has been revealed, and it is slated for construction by 2014.

    For several years, the current LRDP was mired in lawsuits as community members sued the university over potentially deleterious effects of its expansion. This lawsuit was settled in 2008, and as part of its settlement, UCSC was required to submit its plans for water service to upper campus to LAFCO for approval. LAFCO approval of water service is the first step required for development plans to move forward. UCSC submitted its application to LAFCO in 2011.

    The urgency of the Teach the Forest campaign is related to the LAFCO application. Before we can revisit the LRDP and consider better visions for the university, the university must stop its current development plans. The LAFCO meeting regarding approval of water service to upper campus is scheduled for June 6, 2012. At this meeting, the LAFCO board has the ability to deny or place serious restrictions on water service to upper campus – acts that would prevent expansion in this area. Thus, this meeting is the best governmental forum within which we can bring a halt to efforts to enact current plans and to encourage university administrators to consider other options.

    There is real urgency here, but unfortunately, too few people realize that this is the case. Campus expansion is an issue that is on the table now.

    Teach the Forest

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