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NUZ: Will UCSC Ever Build More Housing On Campus?

East Meadow nonsense, plus an election committee disappearing act

When Nuz thinks about college, we’re reminded of how our best teachers would offer constructive criticism on final exams. In class discussions, they reminded students that, on the most important topics, there were no easy answers.

Now that the UC Regents are officially approving new UCSC housing developments, including on the East Meadow, the news was met with frustration from ecologists and faculty old-timers. Rumblings about a lawsuit are already audible.

Locals can disagree about whether the east-campus developments—which include improved childcare facilities—would have been better planned by extending onto the Porter Meadow, home to the California red-legged frog, or upper campus, which would have involved clear-cutting redwoods. Without rehashing all the pros and cons, the developer and college administrators argued that either would have been more expensive (and that claim has been bolstered by the regents’ approval). Honestly, the ecological impacts of any alternative might have been much worse.

Nuz, meanwhile, is reflecting on the housing crisis. We’re thinking about all the Santa Cruz residents who’ve been begging the school to build more units. Most of those same groups fell silent—quieter than the Science and Engineering Library during spring break—when an actual housing idea got presented and it came to approving 3,000-plus units, for a net growth of 2,100 new places to live.

It’s easy to fake your way through discussion sections. But when finals roll around, you should show up for the test, sit down and be ready to engage with some smart, nuanced answers, even when the right ones aren’t easy.

UNCHARTERED

The Charter Amendment Committee is supposed to be meeting these days to talk about electoral reforms and the setup of the Santa Cruz City Council. But after efforts from the council’s new Berniecrat majority to pack the committee with five new members raised eyebrows, the council tabled the discussion, and the item hasn’t come back.

Across California, cities have faced expensive lawsuits for not having electoral districts, and for not having enough diversity on their city councils—often for not having any Latino representation. (It frankly isn’t clear that district elections always improve diversity, but the courts don’t seem to care.)

And at a time when stubborn cities were getting sued left and right, Santa Cruz actually showed a morsel of leadership. The formation of the election committee last year sent a signal that the city was ready to shake up its system and look at possible reforms.

Cities that see legal challenges over their at-large elections typically have had one of three things happen. They either settle their cases, lose in court or opt to fast-track changes to their electoral systems in hopes that they can make lawsuits against them go away. All three of those outcomes end up creating the same result—wasted taxpayer dollars and an outcome that ultimately involves getting district elections forced upon them, often in a way that residents would not have preferred.

Santa Cruz leaders should elect not to end up in one of those scenarios. The city can still get the band back together, with or without new members.

Maybe they’ll have some good ideas.

NUZ CORRECTION

Danny Keith contacted us after last week’s column to point out that we had mischaracterized his post criticizing county leadership on Facebook amid a botulism outbreak—it was not opposing the local needle exchange, and we made a mistake in describing it as such. Nuz regrets the error. He also said we had taken his other Facebook activity out of context—“please clarify I am not advocating shooting homeless people,” he wrote. Duly clarified.

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