Is it a good idea for UC San Diego to build a 5,000- to 6,000-student village?

UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla.
UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla in late August near the Pepper Canyon West Living and Learning Neighborhood construction site.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said many students can’t afford to rent in La Jolla and UTC. More than 42,000 are enrolled this fall.


UC San Diego’s chancellor is considering building a village that could house 5,000 to 6,000 students as part of a long-term plan to help students afford the pricey area.

Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said many students can’t afford to rent in La Jolla and UTC — and there are a lot of students who need housing. Enrollment in the fall quarter is expected to be a new high of 42,300.

Critics around La Jolla have argued the area is already overly congested and maybe the university needs to consider lowering enrollment.

Large projects like this have been proposed before and failed. UC Santa Barbara, along with private investment, wanted to build a 4,000-student dorm complex that was heavily criticized, and the plan eventually fell apart.

Q: Is it a good idea for UC San Diego to build a 5,000- to 6,000-student village?

Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health

YES: But only with a caveat. UCSD is growing to be a major university and housing is undoubtedly necessary to continue growing — or they should freeze their growth. But I would be in favor only if UCSD agreed to the same conditions any non-government or private business would be required to comply with to obtain permission to build the facilities: Facility benefit assessment fees and other fees and costs, as well as community input and approvals.

Jamie Moraga, Franklin Revere

NO: Similar to Mission Valley, there are several considerations before construction of this magnitude moves forward in the La Jolla/UTC region. Is there (or will there be) sufficient infrastructure (including parking, traffic, fire and law enforcement, water, electricity, sewer, roads, and grocery stores) to support this village? This region currently faces challenges from the density it already has. Consideration of quality of life and what is best for the community should be a factor in future development plans.

David Ely, San Diego State University

YES: The large and growing UCSD student body needs affordable housing options. In the vicinity of the UCSD campus, vacancy rates are low and rents are high, straining the budgets of students living close to campus. Living far from campus means long commutes and missing out on many university experiences. Given these conditions, campus housing is a much better option for UCSD students. To meet the demand, a significant expansion in campus housing is needed.

Ray Major, SANDAG

YES: Chancellor Khosla’s idea to house UCSD students on campus is a brilliant solution to our transportation and housing shortage problems. UCSD is more than just a university, it is the catalyst for tens of thousands of high-paying jobs that are created here in the San Diego region from UCSD spin-off companies. Support for this effort allows UCSD to continue to grow, take ownership of the problems associated with increased enrollment, and minimize the impact on the region’s housing shortage.

Caroline Freund, UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy

YES: The value of expanding access to higher education far exceeds costs to neighbors. UC San Diego has transformed the provincial city parodied in “Anchorman” into a thriving center for innovation, technology, and culture. Greater access to top-tier education will further boost growth and innovation in San Diego. Some neighbors may not like the view, but the gains to future generations of students, to San Diego, and to California far outweigh their loss.

Haney Hong, San Diego County Taxpayers Assoc.

YES: If UC San Diego can build housing on property it owns, that will ease slightly the demand pressures coming from San Diegans who want to work and live here. UC San Diego also can get financing and continued revenue from outside the local area, whether it be from Sacramento or full freight tuition, room, and board from international students. UCSD already generates significant economic activity; why not allow for more? Rising tide lifts all boats.

Kelly Cunningham, San Diego Institute for Economic Research

YES: Building housing on campus helps alleviate overcrowding and congestion across the region as students compete with other renters driving up costs. The proposal for higher-density housing on existing university property lessens the need for development elsewhere. Constructing the village community campus for students to live, play and study removes the necessity of commuting across area streets and highways to housing elsewhere. This will actually help mitigate the region’s existing traffic and rental housing shortages.

Lynn Reaser, economist

YES: The university clearly needs more housing and the chancellor’s approach should be considered. UCSD already is a world-class university, but the housing stock is woefully inadequate. Students have been admitted without housing. Significantly, the governor’s signing of AB 1307 prevents CEQA noise lawsuits and requirements for alternative locations from being used to block the project. Until completed, students will be forced off campus, but the project would be worth the wait.

Phil Blair, Manpower

YES: With the shortage of entry-level housing in the San Diego community it would be foolish to not develop land that is within walking distance of students to get to class. Every student who lives and stays on campus frees up room for others to rent the apartments that students would have had to occupy.

Gary London, London Moeder Advisors

YES: They have to do something. It makes no sense to admit that many students without having a way to house them. I might suggest that they downsize the village concept, and use this as an opportunity to disperse housing throughout the trolley corridor and the city. The Morena District and Clairemont should be prime candidates for infill projects dedicated to students. Fill the trolley. Upgrade the neighborhoods. Spread the negative impacts such as traffic, while giving time to catch up on infrastructure improvements.

Alan Gin, University of San Diego

NO: Housing is important. But the infrastructure around UCSD is not adequate to accommodate the university’s projected growth to 50,000 students. An example are the on- and offramps from Genessee Avenue to I-5, which are already among the worst in the region in terms of congestion. The student village could help with housing issues but could have a net negative impact if it attracts more students to the university without addressing other infrastructure problems.

Bob Rauch, R.A. Rauch & Associates

Not participating this week.

James Hamilton, UC San Diego

YES: Construction of thousands of new residential units will help relieve the tight San Diego housing market regardless of whether the units are dedicated for students. And growth of UCSD has been a huge factor in the strong San Diego economy. The university is a key catalyst for the ongoing boom in San Diego biotech, an important contributor in the strong construction sector, and provides a continuing supply of high-skilled workers after students graduate.

Austin Neudecker, Weave Growth

YES: Building large housing complexes for students on or near campus and transit helps reduce traffic and parking, as well as the rental demand on outlying neighborhoods. Plus, living in student housing can enhance your college experience. I was able to walk to school in undergrad and grad school. Without a car, I appreciated the ability to meet classmates or get to activities easily.

Norm Miller, University of San Diego

N/A: Cheap housing sounds good, but I’d suggest UCSD provides long-term land leases to private developers for specified below-market housing, and stick with the business of education and research, unless they are able to secure grants from the state, lowering the cost of housing, which seems high at $283,000 per student for the proposed housing. If in-person on-campus enrollments decline over the next decade, in favor of online options, then this will look overly ambitious.

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