Letter to the editor: UCSC must do better; university ignored design principles in original Student Housing West plan

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To the editor: I very much appreciated Mike Rotkin’s piece on the importance of design in affordable housing. Too often, objections to aspects of a development plan are brushed aside as selfish NIMBYism, and we are told that if we want more housing then we have to go with whatever the developers want.

But that’s a false choice, as Mike’s piece makes clear. Good design delivers the goods; bad design degrades and destroys.

The UC Santa Cruz administration ignored all its design professionals when it decided, on the advice of the Alabama developers it had hired, to build prefab housing — a mere 5% of the Student Housing West project — on the iconic East Meadow. It thus ended a more than 50- year history of environmental stewardship and design integrity.

With luck, now that the project’s champions have left the university and the prefab construction firm has gone bankrupt, more sensible heads can prevail. So far, though, it’s been a great example of the path not to take, whether at UCSC or in town. We can build and grow well, with integrity, and with respect for this place. Let’s make that our priority.

Christopher Connery
Santa Cruz