[Currents headergraphic]

July 2, 1999

UCSC completes final EIR on parking structure; project goes before Regents on July 15-16

By Jim Burns

The final environmental impact report on a proposed parking structure at UC Santa Cruz, completed and distributed to local public agencies today, incorporates a new mitigation measure in response to concerns expressed about the project during the public comment period this past spring.

"The EIR proposes a far-reaching new measure that is designed to minimize the number of single-occupant vehicles traveling to and from the campus," said Charles Eadie, UCSC's director of campus and community planning.

The UC Board of Regents will consider approving the Core West Parking Structure project and certifying the EIR at its July 15-16 meeting in San Francisco. The six-level project would provide approximately 500 new spaces--a net increase of 290-- for use by faculty, staff, and graduate students in the Science Hill area of campus. (The net increase reflects the 210 spaces that would be lost on Science Hill next year because the structure is planned for an existing lot, and nearby spaces are scheduled to be eliminated by other construction projects.)

If the EIR is certified and the project is approved by the Regents, the new mitigation measure would become a legally binding condition of project approval, Eadie said.

Specifically, the new measure calls for UCSC to:

The new mitigation was developed by UCSC's Environmental Assessment Group, authors of the EIR. It incorporates ideas put forth by Crain & Associates, a Los Angeles-based transportation consulting firm hired by UCSC to evaluate UCSC's existing transportation programs and additional transportation alternatives recommended by the public during the EIR review period.

The Crain study also evaluated whether an expanded transportation alternative program could realistically be substituted for the proposed parking structure. The consultants' conclusion: "We do not believe it is feasible for the university to meet the campus population growth projections without increasing the parking supply."

That assessment was based on a consideration of several factors, including the location of the campus at a semi-rural edge of a relatively small metropolitan area, the elevation differences between the campus core and surrounding community, and campus plans to remove some parking while increasing enrollments.

The Crain study also cited the already high level of alternative transportation use at UCSC, which they ranked as one of the best alternative transportation programs among West Coast universities. Crain reports that the current UCSC AVR for faculty and staff of 1.38 would have to increase to an unrealistic 1.80 if the campus grows as planned and the parking inventory remains constant.

"Even in large metropolitan areas, an AVR for employees of 1.5 is considered a high goal," the consultants said. "A long-term goal of a sustainable 1.45 AVR for faculty and staff should be considered the maximum achievable vehicle trip reduction level for parking design purposes."

Copies of the Final EIR will be provided to the main branch of the Santa Cruz City Library and to UCSC's McHenry Library.

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