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Residents near the University of Southern California campus are concerned that if the university expands to accomodate more on-campus housing, they'll be pushed out. USC officials argue the expansion will create jobs, retail, and dining options. Conan Nolan reports from City Hall in Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Aug. 21, 2012.
The University of Southern California is the largest private employer in the City of Los Angeles but the university has a housing problem: a total enrollment of 38,010 students and just 7,198 spaces of on-campus housing.
USC’s University Park campus planning has developed a master expansion plan that it claims will create 7,600 new on-campus beds for students and improve the quality of life for local residents.
But many in the community are worried the expansion will force lower income neighbors out of their homes.
On Tuesday, residents, community leaders and USC officials met at LA City Hall to debate the two very different perspectives in front of a sub-committee comprised of LA City Council members.
“Over the last 10 years entire blocks surrounding the neighborhood have been turned over into student housing, families have been pushed out,” said Paulina Gonzalez of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy.
“This plan, even if it goes forward, will only house about 35 percent of students from the University of Southern California, so students will continue to push families out in the local neighborhood.”
USC insists the community will benefit from the infusion of jobs.
“It will create wonderful dining options, additional retail, and perhaps most important,12,000 jobs,” said Thomas Sayles, USC Vice President of Community Relations.
“And our goal is to make sure that people in the neighborhood are hired, that they have a place to work, that the quality of life improves and that this is just a wonderful place for people to live.”
The sub-committee is expected to decide whether to send the issue to the full City Council for a vote in September.