The UC Board of Regents Committee on Grounds and Buildings authorized a project to build new housing for UCSD graduate students and professionals in East Campus during the Board’s meetings held at UC Irvine earlier this month. The new housing facilities will be located at the Mesa Residential Apartments in UCSD’s East Campus.
The Committee plans to use a budget of $208 million to replace 88 of the existing units with 1,350 new ones. The plan targets 11 46-year-old two-story buildings and calls for their demolition. The construction of the five new, eight-story-high buildings is expected to be complete by 2017.
HDH Assistant Vice Chancellor Mark Cunningham discussed how more housing will contribute to an improvement in student life.
“It is the university’s belief that this project can be transformative for UC San Diego and our graduate and professional students in many ways for many years to come,” Cunningham said. “Providing additional on-campus housing for our current graduate and professional students now living off campus or for incoming graduate students supports our campus Strategic Plan, as this project assists in the recruitment of more graduate and professional students and will enhance the student life of existing graduate students.”
Cunningham added that the location of the new housing buildings will foster an environment on campus that is beneficial to graduate students.
“By locating this housing within the existing graduate and professional neighborhood, we will enable an additional 1,350 students to join their colleagues living there now to build a new, more vibrant and engaged student-centered community which will be tailored to their specific needs and wants,” Cunningham said.
Local community members, including University Community Planning Group chairwoman Janay Kruger, however, told the UCSD Guardian that constructing new residential buildings should not be the Committee’s first priority.
“[There is a] need for a [new] fire station,” Kruger said. “Fire station 35 made 5,802 calls last year, [and] over 2,000 of them were to the campus.”
Kruger added that traffic in nearby areas would become even more crowded with the completion of the project.
“All traffic that will have to use Regents Road is already impacted,” Kruger continued. “The city will be widening Regents Road, but we can’t just keep widening roads. Traffic is a very major issue. […] It was a back-room deal without community input.”
The Committee claims that the cost of repairs to restore the old units instead of replacing them would already cost upward of $31 million to justify the finances of the project. The age of the buildings also creates a safety issue for the occupants, due to the lack of fire-life safety and sprinklers.
Cunningham commented that the project was a necessity for the increasing demand for on-campus housing from graduate students.
“Currently, we have a record high waitlist of just under 2,000 graduate and professional students wanting to live in university-provided housing, and we know that number will continue to increase,” Cunningham said. “Thus, it is evident the project is meeting the high demand from graduate students for campus housing.”
In addition to the new buildings, Caltrain is going to construct a new bridge over Interstate 5 to link Gilman Drive and Medical Center Drive.