By CHP Staff Report

Two lawsuits were filed on Feb. 15 to stop construction of a new Biomedical Science Facility on the UC Santa Cruz campus. The $77 million facility is the first new construction planned under the university’s Long Range Development Plan (LRDP).

One suit was filed jointly on behalf of the City and County of Santa Cruz, while the other came from a group of local residents. The residents filing suit contend that construction of the new facility sets a precedent for irresponsible campus growth under the LRDP.

According to Santa Cruz Mayor Emily Reilly, city leaders oppose construction of the biomedical facility due to what they see as insufficient research on the possible environmental impacts of the five-story building. Reilly said that, in addition to the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prepared for the LRDP as a whole, city leaders want a separate EIR specifically pertaining to the biomedical facility.

“The problems is that we don’t know what the impacts are,” she said. “There’s no way to say that we can deal with any amount of impact, because we don’t know what it will be.

“We just need to make sure that we encourage in the most emphatic way that the university grow in a sustainable way,” Reilly said of the lawsuit filed by the city and county.

But according to Guy Lasnier, spokesperson for the Office of the Chancellor, the new facility is necessary for a university that could grow by as many as 6,000 students, faculty, and staff by 2020.

“More UCSC students each year are interested in Health Sciences as a major and a career,” he told City on a Hill Press via e-mail. “The university is constructing the Biomedical Sciences Facility to meet this need.”