.New Group Opposes Building on UCSC’s East Meadow

As UCSC moves forward with suddenly controversial plans to expand housing construction to its East Meadow, Jim Clifford, an emeritus professor, says the school’s idea of a public process has been, in a word, “scandalous.”

“Effectively, they kept it quiet,” he says, although he likes to think that quietness is quickly changing, thanks to the East Meadow Action Committee [EMAC], which he helped create a few weeks ago.

Although the university and its chosen developer started conceiving of plans to build in the East Meadow last fall, Clifford feels that university leaders did not fully open up about the plans until earlier this month.

Clifford says he knows that the university organized planning groups on the topic and acknowledges that there was a notification from the university that went out in early November about changes to the Student Housing West project—originally planned solely for the west side of campus—but he feels that the release wasn’t clear, as it never actually mentions the words “East Meadow.” And he suggests that the technical document it linked to was far too dense for any casual reader.

Of course, Sarah Latham, UCSC’s vice chancellor of business and administrative services, notes that there was also a Santa Cruz Sentinel story about the change. However, that article never mentioned the East Meadow, either, Clifford says, and only referenced the nearest intersection, Hagar and Coolidge. He believes many people have a hard time remembering which streets are which, and that the shifting impact may have been lost on many.

secure document shredding

“While there’s always room to look at how we can improve,” Latham says, “we did our best effort to share information.”

UCSC drew up plans to build 3,000 beds, via its public-private partnership with Capstone Development Partners in the Porter Meadow area. The plan was to also revamp nearby Family Student Housing, which is in that area. But when that site ran into environmental concerns, planners talked about moving the Family Student Housing portion of the plan east, to Hagar and Coolidge.

Concerned literature professor Chris Connery, who cofounded EMAC with Clifford, says meadow preservation has been a guiding design principle for the university, since the school was first founded 52 years ago—one that has protected sight lines around the campus.

“This is now going to be thrown out the window,” says Connery, mentioning that the area is also a habitat for the burrowing owl.

Connery says there are other places where he would rather see UCSC explore housing construction. For instance, he believes Capstone could build behind UCSC’s trailer park, although he acknowledges the upfront costs might be greater.

Clifford says the group is now reaching out to student activist groups as it tries to build momentum and a wider coalition. “I believe, and I hope students can care about getting more housing on one hand,” Clifford says, “and also care about not ruining what makes UCSC special.”

Graduate student Dan Killam, who serves on a UCSC housing planning group, says this nascent opposition blindsided him.

He likes the idea of putting Family Student Housing at the edge of a field best known for occasionally grazing cows.

“If they had an environmental concern to be considered, I would be in full support of them—if there was an endangered species,” explains Killam, who says that he spends 60 percent of his income on rent. “Domestic cattle are not an endangered species. Their argument about lower campus rings pretty hollow to me. For them to pick on family housing, in particular, seems pretty low.”



  1. The relationship between UCSC and the City is deeply fractured. Its sad to think one liberal progressive organization turns on another. Cannot we all just get along?

  2. For Immediate Release:

    Kalfen Law Corporation submits Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) Comment Letter -UCSC Plan for 3000 new units of housing / Pop Up City:

    RE: DEIR Comments from No Pop Up City in Santa Cruz, a pending Unincorporated Association and Herman Kalfen – SCH No. 2017092007

    Project as Proposed is a New City and Out of Scale, Violates LRDP By Exceeding Buildout, is Five Times Larger Than Necessary to Comply With Superior Court Settlement & Not Necessary (only 786 beds needed to comply) + Adds Excess Capacity Enough Water & Electricity for 40,000 students & DEIR Shows Not Sufficient Sewage + Growth Inducing & Other Fatal Flaws of DEIR (Please see our full Comment Letter for in depth details)

    UCSC is proposing the largest construction project ever seen since the construction of the UCSC campus. UCSC circulated a draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), a key environmental document. Deadline for comments to the DEIR was May 11, 2018. “No Pop Up City in Santa Cruz,” a pending Unincorporated Association filed a 12 page comment letter on May 9, 2018. Bay Area attorney Herman Kalfen is spearheading an effort to take a closer look at what is being called a Pop Up City.
    No Pop Up City in Santa Cruz claims the DEIR is fatally flawed for a variety of reasons. It wants UCSC to prepare a revised DEIR. No Pop Up City’s hope is that the end point will be a better project.
    The new group states in its Comment Letter that the project is a small city of 3000 packed into “5 mega towers,” up to 10 stories tall, to be built right away and all at once. The proposed project also includes its own sewage treatment plant that uses hazardous materials, is undersized and is of a type that is prone to odor.
    No Pop Up City in Santa Cruz also argues that UCSC’s plan would double the electrical connection and add excess water capacity with a new 14” water main sufficient to support 40,000 students.
    The proposed new city is out of character and out of scale with the balance of the UC Santa Cruz campus, and Santa Cruz itself.
    End of Release

    For More Information – Please contact Herman I. Kalfen, Kalfen Law Corporation. Full DEIR Comment Letter posted at KalfenLawCorporation.com links page

  3. East Field is protected in the original University proxy.
    Any deviation is not legally permissible.
    Please contract a really good Law Firm!!!


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