Flowers bloom in the front yard and line the path to a big metal gate. Strapped to its bars, a sign reads:
Behind the gate, at the end of a long, winding driveway, sits a two-story Tudor-style house. The house’s address is 120 Getchell St., and it’s been the home of UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Cynthia Larive since she took office in July 2019.
Before 2015, the Chancellor was among the faculty and staff members who resided on campus. Now, just a block from West Cliff Drive, her house is nestled between private residences.
According to public tax records, UCSC began renting the property for Larive from its previous owner, Patrick Delahunty, in June 2019. The rent was $6,700 a month. On March 16, 2023 — following the UC Board of Regents’ approval — the UC Office of the President (UCOP) purchased the house. Escrow closed on April 3, making it the official residence of UCSC’s Chancellor for the indefinite future.
City on a Hill Press (CHP) was not able to determine the purchase price by the time of publication. After multiple attempts to reach UCOP, Director of Media Relations Roqua Montez declined to share the purchase price without a submitted California Public Records Act (CPRA) request. According to information from the Santa Cruz County Tax Collector’s Office, Delahunty purchased 120 Getchell St. in 2018 for $1.8 million, and Zillow estimates that it is currently valued at $2.7 million.
UCSC’s Assistant Vice Chancellor of University Relations Scott Hernandez-Jason did not release or confirm the house’s address or purchase price to CHP.
“The University House is on the Westside of Santa Cruz, about 2 miles from UC Santa Cruz,” wrote Hernandez-Jason in an email.
Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff Anna Finn elaborated on the university’s reasoning. “We don’t plan to publicize the address for safety and security reasons,” she said. “Of course, if there is a planned invitation [to an event at the house], it will have the address on it.”
It was never confirmed by administration whether students have attended or been invited to any events at Getchell.
Despite the fact that Getchell is owned by UCOP and receives tax breaks for being a public property, public information about 120 Getchell St. is not readily available to students. The only way for members of the public to definitively connect the Getchell residence to the university is through public records at the Santa Cruz County Assessor’s Office.
University House (U House) used to be the official, on-campus residence for the Chancellor before it closed in 2015 due to structural and safety code deficiencies. Today, U House remains empty and unused. While it was in use, the location of the Chancellor’s residence was common knowledge among the student body, much like it is for Provosts today.
U House functioned as an accessible, on-campus space for students to voice their concerns directly to the Chancellor, whether through being invited to scheduled events or through protesting. As early as 1969, students picketed and performed lawn sit-ins there.
Throughout its existence, U House hosted roughly 60 events a year, ranging from scholarship receptions for students to the Chancellor’s Diversity Awards.
“For students, staff, and faculty, attending an event at U House was always so memorable,” said former Chancellor George Blumenthal in a press release. “It felt almost like being invited to the university’s living room — a comfortable and personal space for special friends and for the campus family.”
UCSC did make attempts to restore U House to its previous working condition. In April 2019, a few months before Larive took office, the university proposed a ten million-dollar renovation plan for U House during a UC Regents meeting.
The proposal highlighted the need for a “welcoming and open” Chancellor’s house that would “emphasize the symbolic and intimate connection of the Chancellor to the campus.” An advocate of the proposal before his departure, Chancellor George Blumenthal believed that a renovated U House would help him be “an accessible and integral part of the campus population.”
However, the ten million-dollar proposal was not well- received by some of the Regents. They advised the campus to seek out a cheaper alternative.
Now, in 2023, four years later, Getchell continues to serve as that alternative.
“It largely came down to the price tag,” Hernandez-Jason said.
There were other considerations, too. Getchell is fairly close to campus and, like U House, can host visitors to the university. However, when asked whether Getchell was intended as a replacement for U House, Hernandez-Jason’s response lacked specificity.
“It’s helping to fill the need for it,” he said.
Since Getchell is used for official university business, it is taxed as university property. The UC does not pay the typical statewide property tax rate — which is one percent of the property’s value — on any of its on-campus buildings. Seeing as Getchell is off campus, the former owner, Patrick Delahunty, had to fill out a Public Exemption form specifying the property’s public use. The form was approved.
As a result, Delahunty saved thousands of dollars in property taxes by renting to UCSC instead of any other private citizen. During the 2018-19 fiscal year — before the Chancellor started renting there — the property’s owners paid $11,387.14.
Instead, according to Santa Cruz County tax records, Delahunty paid just $664.20 in property tax during the 2022-23 fiscal year.
This exemption was granted under the condition that the private property be employed for public use. Yet details about that “public use” are difficult to discern.
While Getchell hosts some fundraising events, according to Hernandez-Jason, its smaller size has resulted in the university moving events to other on-campus venues like the Hay Barn.
Hernandez-Jason pointed out that this hasn’t been a major roadblock for UCSC.
“Not having a university house on campus hasn’t held us back in terms of the events that we’re holding,” Hernandez-Jason said. “It’s just forced us to be a little more creative.”
The specific nature of events at Getchell — how many are held per year, what they’re for, and who attends them — is still unclear. When asked, the UCSC Special Events team directed CHP to Scott Hernandez-Jason. Hernandez-Jason did not elaborate beyond stating that Getchell hosts “a variety of events.” He also did not confirm whether current students have ever attended events at Getchell.
Anna Finn, Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff, went into more detail. She said that Getchell doesn’t have as much event space as U House and can only host “smaller dinner parties.”
In attendance at these dinner parties would be “donors, faculty members, staff members, students, everyone you’d normally expect at a campus event.” According to Finn, these events wouldn’t necessarily be made public due to the house’s inability to host more than a dozen people at a time.
Chancellor Larive living at Getchell has raised questions about her connectivity to campus life. Finn explained that, from the administration’s perspective, it doesn’t make much of a difference where the Chancellor lives.
“Where the Chancellor lives is probably not the best litmus test of how connected folks feel to the Chancellor,” said Finn. “She’s here every day, she works in-person, she’s available and she’s around.”
First-year student Amelia Delso disagreed. She explained that the Chancellor living on-campus would give her a more accurate portrayal of student life.
“If [the Chancellor] lives off-campus and they come [to campus], they’re probably just going to visit main areas and see what they want to see,” said Delso. “If they live here, they’ll see what actually goes on.”
In a CHP survey, only four out of 131 randomly selected students on campus could accurately state where Chancellor Larive currently lives.
When asked whether it matters if the Chancellor lives on- or off-campus, some students had mixed opinions.
“There are professors that commute here from literally everywhere, so the Chancellor living off campus is not surprising to me,” said first-year Brenner Wessling. “At the same time, you would want the Chancellor to be more in touch with the students.”
Other students felt that the situation points to significant transparency issues between students and the administration.
“[Not sharing the address] just embodies how [the administration] is really secretive with the students,” said third- year Chloe Warner. “It’s just another manifestation of how they won’t address anything, and they’re disconnected from everything happening on campus.”
This is not the first time these concerns have been raised.
During the 2019 UC Regents meeting where UCSC proposed renovations for U House, the Regents had a brief discussion about the importance of the Chancellor’s house at UCSC. Near the end of the discussion, Kum-Kum Bhavnani, a sociology professor at UC Santa Barbara and UC Academic Senate chair from 2019-20, took the floor. She was serving as a faculty representative for the meeting.
“In case there’s any feeling of not having the Chancellor’s house on the [UCSC] campus,” Bhavnani said, “in my 28 years at UC Santa Barbara, the Chancellor living on the campus has made an enormous difference to how the students relate to the administration.”
Bhavnani went on to point out that, for any university, the purpose of an on-campus Chancellor’s house isn’t just fundraising. It also serves as a critical interface for a Chancellor and their students — one where students “can, if you like, pop in.”
“It may not be convenient, it may not be easy,” Bhavnani said. “But then, students know that the Chancellor is available, and cares about the students, and cares about the campus.”