May 27, 2022
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Our View: Don’t let NIMBYs limit California’s best universities

IN THIS ARTICLE

NIMBYism should not be used to destroy the public institutions that are the lifeblood of the California economy.

Unfortunately, that is what’s happening in Berkeley, where a court order freezing enrollment at the University of California’s flagship campus may force massive cuts in incoming student admissions and trigger more than $50 million in lost tuition.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere, the reduction in freshman and transfer enrollment was a response an Alameda County Superior Court judge’s order freezing student levels and upholding a lawsuit by a neighborhood group.

Move a few hundred miles south, and UC Santa Barbara faces similar issues. There are plenty of NIMBYs in the Goleta Valley and elsewhere who take issue with every additional car on the road or any increase in residences. Indeed, the city of Goleta has sued UCSB in an effort to force it to provide more housing on or near the campus.

UCSB has to find a politically palatable way of housing its future students and expanding at a reasonable pace, or one of the region’s top economic engines could find itself in the same straits as UC Berkeley. UCSB could squeeze thousands of students into tiny, windowless dorm rooms in a risky bet on cramming more people into small spaces — but even the controversial dorm proposed by billionaire Charlie Munger is not enough to solve the problem.

Demand for prestige institutions like UC Berkeley and UCSB is rising, and if the supply of spaces is artificially constrained, these public institutions are going to get even more expensive and more exclusive. That’s not good for the universities or their surrounding communities.

Communities like San Luis Obispo and nearby Cal Poly have worked out development plans that provide for housing for students, staff and faculty. That’s a model worth replicating. So is the public-private partnership model that’s worked for CSU Channel Islands, a university that has creatively used land swaps and other means to create enough real estate for expansion.

California must find a way to fix its broken environmental rules and recognize the strength of its innovation culture. That’s the only way to have a vibrant economy that looks to the future, not to some idealized version of a past that fell short when it comes to economic opportunity for all.

RIP TO A COMEDY LEGEND

Ivan Reitman brought a unique comedic touch to the movies he produced and directed, creating stars out of Bill Murray and others with a freewheeling style and a gift for timing.

“Animal House,” “Ghostbusters” and “Stripes” were among the biggest hits associated with the Montecito resident, who died Feb. 13 in Montecito, at age 75. Reitman never had the kind of community profile that John Cleese, Oprah Winfrey and others have cultivated, preferring the anonymity of life in the Santa Barbara County enclave.

It’s true that among comedy directors, he didn’t achieve the recognition that John Hughes, who died in 2009 at age 59, achieved with films like “Home Alone,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and others.

But Reitman’s breakthrough achievement as a producer with “Animal House” neatly captured a generation in conflict, and “Ghostbusters,” viewed through another lens, deeply understands America’s fascination with the paranormal.

Condolences to his family and his dedicated circle of friends.