Plenty of faculty, students and city residents have, in the past 4-5 years, actively challenged the LRDP in all sorts of established venues. Despite all of this, printed in the last issue of CHP was a letter written by Amelia Timbers in which she complained that students did not participate enough in the planning process. She strongly admonished the tree sitters for not following her example and working with the administration. As part of her job, Timbers tried to help “the university get along better with the city.” Despite the best efforts of she and her colleagues, the university and the city could broker no resolution and find themselves now in legal mediation. That the conflict has gone all the way to court is representative of the unipolar nature of the planning process.
The city engaged in all available planning channels, the result: In the rush to push the LRDP through, the university refused to give town concerns satisfactory weight. Of course, the town isn’t alone in that department. The Academic Senate, the formal legislative and representative faculty body, passed an almost unanimous resolution asking the administration simply to delay the submission of the LRDP to the Regents. I am tempted to ask why the administration, given all of the well-founded criticism of the expansion plans, has continued so adamantly to back the LRDP, to oppose even a delay of its authorization.
Unfortunately, the administration is held accountable to no one in the planning process. For all the established venues and “pragmatic, results-oriented,” tactics of self-proclaimed activists like Timbers, there is no point at which the administration is legally bound to take the advice of outside parties. Neither are they bound to meet academic targets or pursue environmental mitigations.
Hence, the administration is more than willing to let their critics waste time in meetings and on committees. As long as no one does anything that effectively counters the continued legacy of shortsighted, deleterious expansion at UCSC, the administration calls it responsible free-speech. Once people take the decision-making out of the boardrooms and on to their own territory, the establishment doesn’t hesitate to call it “wrong,” “irresponsible,” and “dangerous.” Whatever you, dear reader, may think of the new developments on Science Hill, one thing is clear: The admin has refused to abide by the many objections of its critics to date.
Now, after every avenue has been exhausted, is the time to take the implementation of the LRDP seriously, and to take meaningful action to defend our campus. The least that can be said of the tree sitters is that they have, despite the considerable risk and sacrifice involved in their operation, chosen an approach that the administration cannot simply brush aside as though it were something minor like the City of Santa Cruz or the faculty of the university.