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 June 6, 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 June 6th meeting, LAFCO has the authority to force the University to reaffirm its commitment to real and lasting sustainability.
The proposed LRDP would develop 240 acres and construct 3,000,000 square feet of new buildings in what is now the campus natural reserve. This development would destroy fragile ecosystems and local hydrology, stress an already taxed city water supply, and threaten endangered species including federally listed salmon and steelhead trout. Water scarcity is already critical in Santa Cruz County. Current water usage is depleting our aquifers, creating salt water intrusion, depriving the San Lorenzo River of its natural flows, and leading the City to pursue the construction of an energy-intensive, costly desalination plant. Proposed UCSC campus development would only add to these burdens.
The June 6 LAFCO public hearing is our last best hope to change the direction of this plan.
We, the undersigned, call upon the Santa Cruz County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to safeguard City water resources and to protect our natural environment. We urge LAFCO to ensure that any extension of water service to the UCSC North Campus Area will fully comply with LAFCO water policies. We ask LAFCO to condition any such water service extension so that it will truly be “water neutral,” and so that any such extension of water service will not put into further danger the threatened species that rely on North Coast streams and the San Lorenzo River for their survival.
Thank you for taking our strongly felt concerns into account!