UCSC’s Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) would develop 240 acres in what is now the campus Nature Reserve. This development would stress an already taxed city water supply. City of Santa Cruz water diversions from local streams are currently out of compliance with the Endangered Species Act because the quantity of water diverted has contributed to the local extinction of coho salmon, and reduced populations of steelhead salmon. Further demand on the City’s water system is a principle driver of plans for a highly energy intensive desalination plant.
Despite the University of California’s fiscal crisis, UCSC administrators are proceeding with the Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), an initiative that would fund unsustainable infrastructure at the expense of education, sensitive ecosystems, and regional water sustainability. On December 5, the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) will vote on a resolution that will determine the fate of this plan.
Since 2005, the UCSC administration has been planning for expansion into the redwood and chaparral landscapes of upper campus. In order to enact this plan, UCSC needs LAFCO – a governmental body tasked with curbing urban sprawl – to approve the extension of water service to that area. At the December 5th meeting, LAFCO has the authority to force the University to reaffirm its commitment to real and lasting sustainability.
The December 5th LAFCO public hearing is our best hope to change the direction of this plan.