Since 1984, students have rented space in the RV park from the university and passed along the increasingly old trailers that inhabit it from student to student, generation to generation.
Although rent ranges from $575 to $650, the students must buy the trailers from the previous owner. Depending on their size and condition, the trailers can cost from $1,500 to as much as $7,000.
UCSC officials have begun the process of replacing the aging trailers at Camper Park with new, university-owned RVs — at the cost of $18,000 to $20,000 each — to “increase access, affordability and safety.”
To facilitate the transition, the university have offered students $2,500 for their trailers. Last week, empty spots in the Camper Park indicated some had taken UCSC up on its offer or simply towed their trailers away.
While current residents of the Camper Park are not entirely opposed to the idea of replacing the trailers with something new and eliminating the need for students to purchase the trailers to live in them, they have begun a movement to lease the land through a third party nonprofit and build 42 tiny homes on the property.
Tiny homes are houses of 500 square feet or less that have emerged from an architectural and social movement that advocates living simply.
“We’ve been working with Thomas Rettenwender, who sits on the board of The Sustainability Academy, on our proposal and gave it to the university three weeks ago,” said Meagan White, a UCSC student who has emerged as a spokesperson for the Camper Park Community.
The Camper Park Community’s plan would house twice as many students as the university’s proposal and release UCSC from liability, White said. It also would continue to provide year-round housing for the low-income students that call the Camper Park home.
“Many low-income students do not have anywhere to go during holiday breaks when the dorms close,” White said.
An online petition supporting the Camper Park Community’s plan has garnered nearly 1,000 signatures. A GoFundMe page has raised more than $1,000 to help the students pay lawyers, contractors, architects, building supplies and the cost of leasing the land.
The university is “intrigued” by the idea of a tiny home concept model for the Camper Park and is in the process of exploring what this may entail, including costs for infrastructure, said Scott Hernandez-Jason, UCSC’s director of news and media relations.