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UC San Diego adding 3,310 dorm beds to deal with enrollment growth and housing shortage

UC San Diego's Pepper Canyon West, shown in a rendering, will house 1,310 students.
UC San Diego’s Pepper Canyon West, shown in a rendering, will house 1,310 students.
(Courtesy of Perkins&Will)

Two planned projects will push housing capacity to more than 22,000.

UC San Diego is pushing ahead with plans to build dorms that will collectively hold 3,310 students to deal with the university’s rapid growth and a critical housing shortage.

The expansion will increase the school’s housing capacity to 22,260 — more than the number of people living in communities such as Solana Beach and Scripps Ranch.

The La Jolla campus got a lift from the University of California Board of Regents, which last week gave it permission to move forward with two huge projects: Pepper Canyon West and Thurgood Marshall College Undergraduate Student Housing.

Pepper Canyon West will house 1,310 transfer and upper-division undergraduate students near the Blue Line trolley station that recently opened on campus.

The students will live in two towers 22 or 23 stories tall, making them among the tallest buildings in the university area, matched only by the 23-story Palisade apartment complex that opened in summer 2019.

The university says the towers will be connected to five-story buildings with outdoor terrace seating. The $350 million project also will feature retail space.

Construction is expected to begin this summer and be completed in 2024.

UCSD had planned to build the complex earlier, but it was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pressure grew to get things going after the campus experienced a record enrollment boom in the fall that left nearly 3,300 students on waiting lists for housing. The school now has about 43,000 students. Enrollment grew by more than 14,000 over the past decade and is expected to grow again this fall.

Regents also gave UCSD permission to spend about $33 million to begin planning a roughly 2,000-bed complex for Marshall College, one of the school’s seven undergraduate residential colleges. Much of the project will be set in a eucalyptus grove where low-rise dorms have existed for decades.

UCSD will return to the regents for building funds in the fall. Tentative plans call for the complex to be finished in 2025. The school has yet to announced what the dorms will cost.

The project will rival the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood, a 2,000-bed community at North Torrey Pines Road and Muir College Drive that has become a focal point of campus life.

UCSD also is building the Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood, a complex near La Jolla Playhouse that will feature room for 2,000 students starting in fall 2023.

Meanwhile, the university will resume putting up to three students in some dorm rooms this fall to deal with the housing shortage.

The shortage arose largely because the school took 2,000 beds out of service to promote social distancing during the height of the pandemic.

UCSD officials also said they phased out some of the three-student rooms, or “triples,” because they caused serious crowding problems.

Under the new plan, the university will add 700 undergraduate beds for the fall quarter. ◆