SUN Coalition files suit against UCSB


On February 28, 2024, the SUN Coalition (Sustainable University Now), filed a petition pursuant to the California public records act and the California Constitution and complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the Regents of The University of California, and the University of California, Santa Barbara. The suit was filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court. SUN is represented by the Mitchell M. Tsai Law Firm and the Law Office of Marc Chytilo.

This action derives from UCSB’s failure to provide SUN with information regarding UCSB’s failure to fully provide the student, faculty and staff housing promised in the 2010-2025 UCSB Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). UCSB committed to providing new housing for the 5,000 new students and approximately 1,800 new faculty and staff allowed by the 2010-2025 LRDP. To date, UCSB has added 5,000 additional students but only 1,500 beds, and fewer than 200 of the promised 1,800 units for faculty and staff.

SUN made numerous formal requests for information regarding these housing shortfalls and the campus’ plans to fulfill them. Because UCSB was unresponsive, on April 8, 2022 SUN submitted a Public Records Act request that has gone largely unanswered, despite numerous reminders and requests. SUN is filing this action today to get documents required to explain UCSB’s non-compliance with the LRDP commitments and the delays that have worsened the community’s housing crisis.

Dick Flacks, UCSB Emeritus Professor of Sociology, stated, “As the housing crisis intensified and campus population grew, UCSB refused to look any further than the unrealistic and ill-fated Munger Hall project, adding years of unnecessary delay to the construction of campus housing facilities that are so desperately needed. UCSB’s housing shortfall has also exacerbated the housing crisis being experienced in surrounding communities.”

“SUN and the public have a right to know UCSB’s plans to provide the overdue 1,500 on-campus units required for faculty, staff, and their families. As importantly, what are the decision-making processes that led to this housing shortfall, including decisions to depend on a private donation from Charles Munger and decisions surrounding the long delayed 540-unit Ocean Road project to be funded by a private developer instead of proceeding as a campus-owned and financed project,” Professor Flacks declared.

Marc Chytilo, the long-standing counsel to SUN commented, “UCSB has failed to meet the minimum standards for document disclosure required by both the California Constitution and the Public Records Act. As the California Public Records Act states, “[A]ccess to information is a fundamental and necessary right." (Gov. Code, § 7921.000.) The CPRA requires that public agencies respond promptly to requests for documents, and either make the record available or state, in writing, the legal basis under the CPRA for withholding the record.”

He continued, “This has forced SUN to file litigation to uphold the law and uncover the basis for UCSB’s inaction and harm to its campus population. With this action SUN respectfully requests that the Court issue a “writ of mandate” commanding UCSB and the Regents to disclose all non-exempt information as requested, and a declaration that Respondents' conduct fails to comply with the CPRA.”

The SUN Coalition member groups include Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara County (CPA), League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara (LWVSB), and Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN).

Professor Flacks concluded, “SUN looks forward to UCSB’s compliance and cooperation in providing the information it is required to produce, and to fulfilling its housing commitments without further delay.”