Save the Trailer Park
Since 1984, the trailer park has been a hub for artistic creativity, collaborative community, and social action in Santa Cruz, and an invaluable autonomous space on UCSC campus. This tradition originally started because there was no affordable housing on campus so students began living in trailers and vehicles in protest.Since its start, it has been one of the few low income communities on the UCSC campus. The students own their trailers and rent the space from the university, allowing for year round housing, autonomy, and community continuity. Residents of the Trailer Park not only learn lessons about home owning, but also experience what it is like to be part of a community. With potlucks twice a week, shared gardenspaces, year round stable housing and traditions that get passed down through the generations, the Trailer Park is a special place that is irreplaceable to the UCSC community.
On June 1st, a week before finals, the University sent letters to the residents announcing there proposal for a "change of use" for the Trailer park. Their proposal included putting in a sewer line at the cost of 1.8 million, replacing all the student own trailers with university owned ones (costing between $18,000 and $20,000 each), and changing the housing policy to resemble other ones on campus. In this proposal students would have to vacate the trailers over winter and summer break, so the university can do maintenance. It would also give the freshmen and sophomores priority housing, and make the average residency be one academic year. Further information on the universities plan can be found here.
Many of the graduating seniors relied on the old system where they would be able to sell their trailers to the next person, allowing them to make back the money they spent on their initial purchase. Due to the timing of the university's proposal, many seniors were put in a difficult position juggling finals, parents, graduation, and now loss of money and responsibility of what to do with their trailer. For compensation the university offered a $2,500 settlement agreement. This settlement, if signed, would have the students relinquish their rights for any legal action against the UC System, but give the student the $2,500 compensation. Additionally, the university would be willing to tow the trailers within 25miles, and give a 21 day extension to when the trailer need to leave.
Following the announcement of the proposal, the residents of the trailer park as well as many alumni held a meeting to determine what the next steps should be. Many of the the students felt that the university's plan, while well intentioned would ruin many aspects of the park that students hold most dear, like the community and traditions. Many felt confused about the $2,500 settlement, and many seniors felt outraged by timing. As a group we developed clarifying questions to ask the Administration at a meeting that would be held in the next few days. At this meeting we determined that we had only a few options on how to respond to the university's proposal. So, we developed work groups to look into the possibility of legal action, figure out ways to modify the university's proposal to try to retain the important aspects of the park, and look into alternative options
Over the next month the students and alumni worked hard researching similar situations (like the Domes in Davis) and doing outreach to a number of people and organizations. We begun to realize that leasing the land through a third party non-profit was the most viable and reasonable solution that could meet every party's needs. To see more details on this proposal check out our website
We began to get more organized as a group, assigning people of various task that needed to be done, and we started to get a more complete understanding of what would need to be done in order to lease the land. By early July, we had a pretty good idea of which organizations and people we needed to work with to create our proposal, but in order to start doing outreach, and put up our website, and start to solidifying our plan, we had to tell the university our plans, so that we could begin to work together.
On Wednesday July 6th, we met with administration again and proposed our idea. A copy of our initial proposal speech can be found here. At this meeting, the administration agreed to look into our proposal and have a follow up meeting.
We are now continuing collaborations with the university, working on our proposal, doing media outreach to spread awareness, and trying to get as many people as possible to sign petitions and send letter expressing their support of our proposal. Links to the petition, letter, and gofundme page can be found on ucsctrailerpark.org. Long live the Trailer Park.
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