UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students title=
UC Santa Barbara’s Tenaya Towers undergraduate student housing project. | Credit: Bruce Damonte
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This story was originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.


By Tyler Hayden of The Independent

UC Santa Barbara is facing a significant housing shortage for incoming students this fall, with online message boards and social media platforms alight with hundreds of desperate freshmen and transfers looking for places to live. Many fear they will be forced to sleep in their cars when the quarter begins on September 27, or commute long distances to reach the Central Coast campus.

A Change.org petition started last Thursday ― lambasting UCSB for leaving its students high and dry and calling on the university to negotiate bedspace with local motels ― has generated more than 1,600 signatures. Its creator, Dino Vicencio, said he’s been looking for off-campus housing since May with no luck. “There’s just nothing out there,” he said. 

An incoming transfer from Los Angeles Valley College, Vicencio said he started the petition once he began connecting with other students facing the same challenge. “This isn’t something new,” he said, referencing recent reports that UCSB has fallen dramatically behind on building new housing. “They’ve known about this for years. That’s what got me really upset.” If he can’t find a place soon, Vicencio said, he’ll likely commute to campus via the Surfliner train from his home in L.A. to Goleta, a four-hour round-trip.

Sarah Jochum said she’s in the same boat. “As happy as I am to be admitted,” she said, “the university admitted more students than there is housing in Santa Barbara, and that’s a problem.” Jochum said she was informed Tuesday by a UCSB representative that she is one of 900 students on a waitlist for university housing, and that there is a very limited availability of off-campus housing due to the pandemic. 

While the number of on-campus units has not changed from pre-pandemic years, she was told, COVID-19 has pushed many incoming students to room alone or with just one other person in Isla Vista ― the adjacent community where the bulk of UCSB students reside ― as opposed to the normal-year routine of cramming three or four bodies to a room.

“There is a large group of students who have money in-hand but are planning on living in their cars because they can’t find an apartment,” she said. “We really need the community’s help in pressuring the university to come up with solutions.”

Things have gotten so bad that UCSB’s Community Housing Services department even put out a call to faculty and staff this week asking them to consider opening their homes to incoming students. “Please also spread the word to your non-UCSB community contacts,” the message reads.

Shelly Leachman, a spokesperson for UCSB, said the university is aware of the problem and working on it. “Currently,” she said, “we are planning to maximize our campus housing and are exploring several options to assist students who are having a difficult time finding housing as a result of several factors in the community, including a tight rental market in the Santa Barbara area and many reports of I.V. residents choosing lower-density living situations.”

Leachman noted that UCSB is not alone in the current housing crunch. “Many campuses are experiencing similar circumstances,” she said. “As we have done in past years, we communicate with our campus community to explore options for students seeking housing accommodations.”

Those assurances, though, have been cold comfort to students who are still unsure what the fall will hold. “My friends and I have been searching for an apartment for months but can’t find one,” wrote Romina Aratesh on the petition. “We are legitimately considering taking a quarter or two off due to lack of housing. UCSB needs to do better!” 

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SBSand Aug 24, 2021 02:12 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

The community has been asking UCSB to come up with solutions for a LONG, LONG time. Us locals have struggled with the housing in this city, in large part because of UCSB's lack of housing for their students. It's time for them to step up, too bad they waited until it is such a big problem.

a-1629859264 Aug 24, 2021 07:41 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

SBCC should only be catering to locals - which is why it is called a community college. Bringing people from out the area - even from out of the country - to attend SBCC is a theft of local resources.

Byzantium Aug 24, 2021 09:22 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

New SBCC President came from Southwestern College near the border and recently passed several hundred million dollars of construction bonds, which now sit on her former district's property taxes. Southwestern College also built student dorms. Keep an eye on her and the SBCC board, in case they hired her to find magic answers for their own declining enrollment numbers. Taxing locals to build dorms for out of district students is never the answer.

SBSand Aug 24, 2021 03:54 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

Yes! And many local citizens ha e been pushed out of the rental market and forced to commute because of preferential treatment, aka higher rents, for students whose parents pay. It's a long time problem for those of us who live and work here. I have a good job but if my landlord decides to sell I will be forced out of town because of lack of inventory. Why? Because of local colleges that don't have housing for students and employees and instead have forced our community to accommodate them. Pet peeve of mine!

CoastWatch Aug 24, 2021 02:38 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

We need more people to come into this area of FINITE housing opportunities. Those propeller-head-professors probably don't understand that Santa Barbara has the Mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other... I guess they just don't "get it"... So much for higher education.

Voice of Reason Aug 24, 2021 04:47 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

There are large investment firms buying up SFR's throughout the US but mainly in markets with a much lower median housing price. The 30 year rate most people can get right now is hard to beat, why the investment banks win out is because they have ungodly amounts of cash and can easily pay 20% over asking all cash.

dukemunson Aug 24, 2021 08:31 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

A large REIT out of Chicago bought up a large collection of duplex’s on Del playa plus some of the larger buildings in IV but this is on UCSB/COVID. The university promised people singles in the dorms but then still admitted the same number of people. So they lost quite a few beds. Add in a few hundred kids (well there parents) deciding to pay a hit extra and get them their own apartment and quickly you have the answer to the shortage.

Byzantium Aug 24, 2021 04:05 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

Plenty of well priced mobile homes still in this area. Others manage to come here and make it work. Take a drive through our many mobile home parks, and learn how others have done it.

Babycakes Aug 24, 2021 04:30 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

Happy2BeSB: You ask, "Anyone have any insight on whether that's playing a role here?," and the simple answer is supply and demand. Very little supply means that rents will necessarily be "high" in our locale due to the high demand. If you go somewhere where there is little demand for x, y, or z, then the rent/prices will be less. I won't pretend to understand why our gasoline prices are so low compared to other places (other than we (the people in SB) are paying the price for being anti-oil).

Happy2BeSB Aug 24, 2021 04:38 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

Oh for sure, Babycakes. I'm just wondering whether there has been any change in what's constraining supply. If companies like Zillow are buying up properties to renovate and flip, then that may reduce supply even further since those until would unavailable to renters and buyers alike until the renovations are finished. And the renovated unit will cost more to buy/rent which won't be helpful for UCSB and SBCC students.

a-1629917434 Aug 25, 2021 11:50 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

The supply has also been constrained this year by the 'no eviction' edicts. People are choosing not to build apartments or rent rooms if they don't get rent. Just another unintended consequence...

yacht rocked Aug 24, 2021 05:00 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

In a few years UCSB will have Munger Mausoleum, oops, Munger Hall, with one giant building and many windowless bedrooms to house 5,000 students. See: bap.ucsb.edu/mungerhousing

Don't worry about water - idle some vineyards, swap paper water, recycle toilet water and voila.

RHS Aug 24, 2021 06:18 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

Remember that this same argument (we need for housing for needy students) has been pushed for a decade to justify SBCC in building dorms or for the city to OK exploitative projects in the neighborhood which will displace locals and cater to the student tourists that come to SBCC (and often live in IV to take advantage of that life style). Be vigilant that St. George and his hired politicians don't mislead you when it comes to selecting candidates that will hold the line in this area. This includes candidates for the SBCC Board of Governors.

dukemunson Aug 24, 2021 07:49 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

It’s pretty simple: UCSB made most of their dorms “singles” this year because of Covid. As such, they lowered their capacity by several thousand beds. So yeah, UCSB is at “capacity” but it’s a much much lower capacity. No easy obvious fix at this point as they’ve already guaranteed thousands of freshman singles instead of the standard double or triple.

Life in SoCal Aug 24, 2021 07:58 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

UCSB Enrolled students thinking about the usual 4 or 6 to a room..... Seems they forgot about the new health requirement of only 2 per room..... Instant housing shortage that was preventable by enrolling only half of the current number of those enrolled.

RHS Aug 25, 2021 08:17 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

SBCC refused, as I recall, to allow its students living in vehicles to do this. Never understood what the issue was except perhaps that they thought it would "encourage" such behavior or they didn't want the responsibility to supervise.

Byzantium Aug 25, 2021 09:49 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

Das Williams passed state legislation forcing all community colleges to permit gym bathroom use for anyone in need, including SBCC. Therefore it was no longer a local decision, it becomes a statewide mandate. Williams continually brags about his own van-living experiences when he was going to school, instead of pursuing any number of other more legitimate housing options.

pstarSR Aug 25, 2021 07:42 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

soorry but “This isn’t something new,” he said, referencing recent reports that UCSB has fallen dramatically behind on building new housing."

the entire state has fallen horribly behind in housing for EVERYONE

pstarSR Aug 25, 2021 12:38 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

Byz, nope didnt need that correction. plus I didnt say horrid. but sure lets makes this about the haves and the have nots. carry on. love this board.

anyways, I have no clue what attempt that was to stir the pot like all your other posts. but have fun.

SantaBarbaraObserver Aug 25, 2021 07:45 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

This is what happens when an institution forgets it purpose and instead lets the desires and wants (egos) of the administration and its benefactors drive the direction and the choices... Look around, every single large public institution has been overtaken by greedy, over-zealous, self focused, bureaucrats acting in their own interests. Every school. Every institution, every division, every department in the state is overrun by these cretins. They claim they're educators working for the future, but the only future these people are interested in developing is theirs... Public education has become a business - which would be fine, except these institutions are being managed by the worst business people in our society; Academics.

PitMix Aug 25, 2021 08:38 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

This is the human condition, right? I see it in all organizations although the public agencies are the easiest to pick on. Let me know when you come up with the solution to people being human.

SantaBarbaraObserver Aug 25, 2021 09:12 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

Well Pit I hate to be the one to break it to you but society invented things called rules, laws, requirements , procedures, necessities, adherence, compliance, etc. to manage these "conditions". But thanks for another prolific post. You never miss an opportunity to tell us what you've personally seen and experienced on your daily journey between W Mission St and Ventura...

PitMix Aug 25, 2021 11:31 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

For every "rule" you can quote, I can give you an example of when it was broken. Society functions on the hope that we will all obey the golden rule, and the last 4 yrs has shown you how fragile that agreement is.

surfbum Aug 25, 2021 07:53 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

No mention of the availability -or not- of rentals in the North County. Yes, it is somewhat of a commute but that is the norm for many who work in SB who cannot either find or afford local rentals. Of course, that may require students accustomed to the IV lifestyle would have to accept a lower cultural standard of living in Lompoc.

letmego Aug 25, 2021 09:49 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

Sadly, there's a tight rental market in north county also.

California hasn't been building enough housing in general, but one only has to look at climate change and wonder if that's the complete answer. I was looking at maps yesterday comparing rainfall totals across the country over the last couple of decades. The entire west is getting drier, the east getting wetter.

Byzantium Aug 25, 2021 09:53 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

Transitions to virtual learning would eliminate the current vast armies of teacher union members, since one talking head is all you need for any subject matter. I can support this trend.

jak Aug 25, 2021 11:05 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

Historically, Santa Barbara fought like crazy to bring in this prominent and growing university. We wanted the prestige and cultural perks that came with it. Then a little over a decade later we hated it and wanted it gone, or at least invisible.

Sorry folks, world-class research universities don’t just casually pack up their tent and relocate on a whim. The fight to bring a UC campus to town was a fight that we won and all the consequences along with the benefits. Now live with it semi-permanently. My advice is to enjoy it. Go there and walk around. Use the library. Look at the museums and galleries and attend recitals and lectures. Enroll in extension classes. That will help you learn new things and get to know the university community.

Byzantium Aug 28, 2021 08:52 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

UC Master Plan originally capped UCSB enrollment at 15,000, other campuses at 27,000. Obviously that was a flexible commitment. For decades, UCSB was seen as a minor member of the UC family. Long known as the errant party school, things changed and it became a leading graduate research center as well as a full member undergrad UC family partner. Local planning probably stopped at UC's first level commitment - no more than a 15,000 student campus.

Mesarats Aug 25, 2021 03:24 PM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

Palo Alto has been having the same issue for years at Stanford, the median home price is just shy of $3 Million. talked to a guy working at Google, he was sleeping in the parking lot, (they have every thing showers, work out, food etc) he was doing it to save money for a house, I imagine he was not the only 1.

There are a lot of motor homes on the streets, priced out locals, seniors, disabled and students. Santa Barbara also and Palo Alto also have a city attorney in common, their former, our current, Ariel Calonne.
He banned RVs there too, but the uproar of the displaced locals, workers, etc… pushed him to reverse it, here he made it stick by adding “Oversize vehicles” which is not enforced. IV could provide space for a lot and some one to manage it.

a-1630163469 Aug 28, 2021 08:11 AM
UCSB Facing Major Housing Shortage for Incoming Students

"Enrollment freeze: An Alameda County judge has ordered the University of California, Berkeley, to freeze its enrollment, a victory for neighbors upset with the university’s growth as well as for other California communities struggling to deal with the impacts of the system’s growing campuses, Berkeleyside reports."

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