Incorporated on April 6, 1888, Orange has a rich history rooted in agriculture, citrus packing, ranching, and family values.  Our city has a diverse mix of residents and a vibrant downtown area affectionately known as the Plaza.  The Old Towne Historic District is the crown jewel of Orange, which is a one square-mile designated community developed around Plaza Park.  With Old Towne Orange being the largest Registered Historical District in California, the current population of approximately 140,000 is able to maintain the unique heritage and quaint charm that has defined Orange, while still recognizing its historic roots.


Chapman University has been a part of Orange since 1954 and continues to be a renowned institution and a source of pride for our city. Chapman currently maintains a charming 58-acre campus located in the heart of Old Towne that is home to approximately 8,300 enrolled students. Chapman University is the largest private university in Orange County and greatly contributes to our local economy and contributes added culture.


Chapman University wants to update The University Specific Plan, The City of Orange document that dictates what development is allowed.


The plan’s last comprehensive update was in 2004, when the campus area expanded by 17 acres and maximum student enrollment increased by 4,100 students. It was amended again in 2012 to allow for the Musco Center for the Arts, which is now complete.  Currently, the Specific Plan includes 58 acres and allows 8,700 students, 600 more than now attend the university.


Chapman University has not addressed many of the issues from previous Specific Plans: student caps, infrastructure concerns, where students will live, etc.  For example, traffic around Chapman University is heavy and options to alleviate it, such as widening the streets, aren’t plausible for a historic district, let alone the largest historic district in California.


As Chapman University has grown over the years many Orange neighborhoods that were established as low-density single family residents have seen the increase of community-based Chapman student houses. Many local neighborhoods have experienced residential properties that once housed a small family with two vehicles change to housing for multiple students, such as six students with six vehicles.  This is very difficult for neighborhoods to support and the single family residences consisting of Chapman students has severely impacted the population density, traffic, parking, noise, disruptive behavior etc.


Orange Police Department (OPD) indicated on January 6, 2016 that roughly 18% of the department’s public disturbance (party related) calls citywide were attributed to social events hosted by one or more enrolled Chapman students. However, because that statistic incorporates all such complaints registered throughout the entire City of Orange, it doesn’t accurately reflect the real impact of the level of instances of public disturbances occurring each year within the neighborhoods of Old Towne.  In other words, this number is diluted.


Chapman University is an above average educational institution with below average student amenities.  High quality schools such as Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford have more than 90% of their student population living on campus where students have the opportunity to share ideas, work together, and have quality bonding experiences.  It’s amazing all of the innovation that has come from schools like Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford and the leaders these schools produce.  Respect Orange wants to support and ensure Chapman students have the tools necessary be the next generation of innovators and leaders.  Chapman students are missing out on these opportunities.


Many Chapman University students have conveyed they want Quality over Quantity.  These student leaders want the university to admit that enrollment is too high and it’s having a negative effect on their college experience.  The students would like to see the efforts of Chapman focus on enhancing their on-campus college experience versus dilute their experience further with more students.  Examples of this would be a plan that would add on-campus housing but wouldn’t increase student enrollment, add student centers on campus that include recreational activities, and other activities where the students can interact and be together, the creation of a Greek Row (roughly 1 in 3 students are involved in Greek life), a pub on campus where students can socialize, and a student union with modern amenities to create those awesome college bonding experiences that foster innovation.


The data from Chapman University backs up what Chapman University students are seeking.  With the last residence hall being built in 2009, Chapman offers housing to 29% of it’s population or approximately 2235 students.  However, roughly 95% of Chapman students, or 7890 require housing.  Where do these additional 5655 student live?  There is a strong correlation between lack of student housing and the stressors Chapman University’s growth has put on the neighborhoods, infrastructure, and resources of Orange, CA.


Chapman University Enrollment 1995-2015 (CIRO)

YEARENROLLMENT# Change (∆)% Change (∆)


% Change (∆) in CU Enrollment over Time

% ∆ 1995-2015139%
% ∆ 2005-201545%
% ∆ 2010-201521%


Respect Orange believes:

  1. Chapman must develop more on-campus student dormitory space for its EXISTING enrolled student population.
  2. The City should not approve any further building permits for Chapman which do not include solid requirements of expansion of on-campus student dormitory space that are reasonably proportionate to any project approved and that are contingent upon final approval of any such permit granted. This includes any changes to existing structures owned or leased by the university.
  3. An increase in student enrollment should not be allowed by the City to occur until the university develops and offers on-campus dormitory space for 90% of its existing students and all future enrolled students for each academic year.
  4. All conditional use permits issued by the City to Chapman for any building in the future must contain a provision that the university will maintain on-campus dormitory space for 90% of enrolled students for each academic year.
  5. Underclassman, specifically Freshman and Sophomores, should be required to live on campus and not be allowed to have privately owned vehicles on campus.

Once the proper and adequate amenities and infrastructure is in place, Respect Orange believes that only at this time a further conversation can be had regarding increased enrollment.