CSUS, Sierra College collaborate on Placer Ranch development


California State University, Sacramento, and Sierra College have agreed to collaborate with developers of Placer Ranch, a 2,200-acre site north of Roseville, to expand higher-education offerings to South Placer County.

The colleges announced Tuesday an agreement to work jointly as CSUS develops plans for a satellite campus on 300 acres to be donated by Westpark Communities, the developer of Placer Ranch.

The off-campus sites for CSUS and Sierra College in the coming years will be created on the eastern side of Placer Ranch. They will be the centerpiece of the planning on land that Westpark purchased last year, said Westpark Chief Operating Officer Jeff Jones.

CSUS President Alexander Gonzalez said the strategy furthers a proposal from 11 years ago when Eli Broad controlled 2,200 acres and planned with then-CSU Chancellor Charles Reed to transfer 300 acres of the land to the college. The aim then, he said, was to one day accommodate a full-sized campus with the equivalent of 25,000 full-time students.

At that time, environmentalists and other opponents said Broad was proposing a university campus to counter opposition to his residential development.

Backers said the new collaboration would help meet the long-term academic needs in fast-growing areas of Roseville and Lincoln.

“Right now, we have between 5,000 and 7,000 students that come from that area and commute to the campus here (in Sacramento),” Gonzalez said. “So the demand is there.”

Gonzalez said Westpark has worked with Eli Broad “and now they’ve revived the project.”

Initially, he said, the property will house an off-campus center providing a limited number of programs, perhaps for degrees in business or nursing, with Sierra College providing students for the first two years of a four-year baccalaureate program.

“Right now, we’re letting people know that the movement has begun,” Gonzalez said. “We’re going to start an off-campus center.”

Sierra College President Willy Duncan said the joint effort “would allow us to work really closely with them (CSUS) to align our programs so that our students have more seamless transfer pathways to Sac State.”

Jones said the 2,200-acre property is located along 3 miles of Roseville’s northern border. His company has been meeting every two weeks with representatives from Roseville and Placer County on a proposed city annexation of the site, a move he said makes sense because of the infrastructure and urban services available through the city.

The 300 acres to be donated is about equal to the size of the existing CSUS campus. Jones said that’s enough land to accommodate 25,000 full-time students. Another 5,000 students could attend Sierra College.

Jones said the development firm is working with city and county officials on the land plan for infrastructure, parks and schools. The site would have about 5,300 housing units, enough for about 14,000 residents. There would be 7 million square feet of research and development, office and commercial space, enough for an estimated 30,000 jobs.

Ultimately, the annexation proposal must undergo an environmental impact report and go before the Placer County Local Agency Formation Commission for approval.

CSUS and Sierra College already joined efforts on a separate university center under discussion in Roseville. That project also includes the University of the Pacific, William Jessup University and Brandman University.

Call The Bee’s Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073. Follow her on Twitter @LorettaSacBee.

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