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District 3 contender for City Council Robert E. Lee sent me on this mission:

Vlad: What’s the latest on the development situation in and around SDSU and College area? Several months ago, there was quite a flap with the Cal State system expecting the taxpayers of San Diego to pay for much of the surrounding infrastructure improvements associated with proposed new development around the SDSU campus, including new dorm towers. A state court later ruled that universities basically cannot do that. Where do things stand now? Thanks.

The question concerns San Diego State’s Master Plan update. According to the university’s schedule, it is currently accepting comments on its draft environmental impact report.

Here is what the university says about the court decision Lee alludes to:

While the 2005 Campus Master Plan Revision was approved unanimously by the CSU Board of Trustees on Sept. 21, 2005, a recent California Supreme Court decision in the case Board of Trustees of the California State University has resulted in the need for SDSU to decertify the EIR for this plan.

The final plan will go before the California State University Board of Trustees for a vote at the board’s September meeting. Once the board certifies the plan, the university will ask the state for the money to make it happen.

So what is included in the plan?

That brings me to this question from CRM:

Adding to Robert’s question – I would like to know what percentage of students our two “big” schools (UCSD, SDSU) attempt to house in on-campus in dorms and how that compares to some similar schools (for UCSD lets compare to UCLA, Berkely, and Irvine and for SDSU lets benchmark against Northridge and SacState). It will help better frame the whole “mini dorm” debate.

According to San Diego State’s draft Master Plan, the university currently about 3,000 dorm beds and manages another 1,720 beds within walking distance of the campus. Under the master plan, the university would add another 2,796 dorms by 2025, the total number of beds would grow to 10,000. That’s out of a projected enrollment of 35,000.

Here is how university spokeswoman Lorena Nava said in an e-mail the campus distributes its housing:

Priority for housing is given based on two factors: whether the student is returning and when their licensing agreement is turned in. So, students are given priority if they’re returning, say as a sophomore, as opposed to a freshmen (sic). For freshmen, priority is assigned based on their intent to enroll. Regarding licensing agreements, students that turn in their agreement before the deadline (July 1 this year) have higher priority than those that turned in their agreements after the deadline.

I’m hesitant to compare it to other campuses in the CSU system, given that there are so many of them and they are all in such different areas. I don’t know enough about the various campuses to make sure I’m comparing apples to apples.

I can, though, speak at more detail about University of California, San Diego, where I was recently an undergraduate. The university guarantees housing for its freshmen and sophomores, though not all decide to take it up on its offer. It also has some graduate and affiliate housing that it controls.

The mini-dorm issue has not been as hot there, as City Council President Scott Peters has told the UCSD Guardian several times. That’s probably because few students can afford to rent in nearby La Jolla Farms — even if they pave over the front lawns, backyard tennis courts and swimming pools and stuff students inside.

Speaking of the Guardian, as a proud alumni, I wanted to share with you this great photo of Councilman Jim Madaffer (left) the staff recently printed from a mini-dorm forum:

A few years ago, when Chancellor Marye Anne Fox arrived, the university commissioned an Undergraduate Student Satisfaction Survey.

The report, methodologically flawed as it was, found that students at UCSD were less satisfied with their school than students at UC Irvine. Which is pretty incredible, if you’ve ever been to Irvine. Just kidding.

One of the recommendations to boost student spirits included in the report was to build enough units to house students for all four years. It’s an idea Fox ran with.

But it won’t happen for a long time. One reason is that the university has maxed out its credit card. The future of a current project to build a high-rise to house transfer students — who spend their first two years at community college and currently do not get guaranteed housing — was in doubt before Fox begged the UC Board of Regents to raise UCSD’s debt ceiling.

So how does it compare to other UC campuses? Last time I researched this issue, which was a few years ago, the standard was to offer one year of guaranteed housing. Others could get on a waitlist.

One exception is UCLA According to its housing office, the university currently has a three-year housing guarantee. A few years ago, UCLA leaders suggested that they wanted to build enough housing for all of the campus’ students.

But according to the university’s 2000 Master Plan:

The UCLA Student Housing Master Plan guarantees two years of housing for freshmen  and one year for transfer students. Assuming demand for housing continues at the current ratios, UCLA will need additional beds to accommodate the new students. But because  there are so many factors involved, it is difficult to predict how many new beds will be needed to meet the Master Plan.

VLADIMIR KOGAN

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