New Year Brings New Cribs To UCI

Sofia Panuelos | Staff Photographer

UC Irvine seniors Tommy Ceron and Jonathan Erbe bounded into their new apartment in Camino del Sol, taking refuge from the beating September sun. The heat outside radiated off of the asphalt, off the cars, off the buildings —  there was no shady refuge. The few trees planted around the apartments brought little relief.

The fluorescent light fixtures flickered slowly, casting their muted white light into the living room in the bottom floor of their apartment.

“Parking here is awful,” Erbe said as he walked up three flights of stairs to his third-story bedroom. “We have to park in the ARC structure. The first two levels are ARC parking. You don’t have immediate access to your car.”

Camino del Sol and Puerta del Sol are UCI’s two newest housing communities and just opened their doors to residents this quarter. The two communities are managed by American Campus Communities, (ACC), which also manages Vista Del Campo and Vista Del Campo Norte.

Camino del Sol is populated by undergraduate students and offers six different floor plans ranging from single-story four-bedroom, two-bathroom flats to three-story four-bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom townhomes.

Puerta del Sol, another set of new housing at UCI, was originally open to graduate students, but has since made leases available to undergraduate students and staff as well. Five floor plans are available to residents ranging from a single-story studio with combined bedroom and living room area to two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments.

Apartments are well-furnished with easy-to-clean, imitation hardwood floors and faux granite countertops. Washing machines and dryers are included in each apartment or townhome. All utilities and electricity up to a monthly cap are included in the rent.

“You’re basically paying $225 for storage space [for your car],” Erbe said. “That’s what really grinds my gears. We ‘live on campus,’ but we can’t park on campus. [The townhomes] are more isolated than we expected.”

“It’s not very neighborly [here],” Ceron said. “It seems like there’s a lot of empty apartments; either that, or it’s a really quiet community. Sometimes it’s dead quiet.”

In spite of the inconvenient parking situation, residents seem to be relatively satisfied with their apartments and townhomes. Although the lowest monthly rent starts at $750-$788 per month in Camino del Sol and $1003 per month in Puerta del Sol, the variety of services such as included utilities, game rooms, study rooms, a fitness center, BBQ’s, a swimming pool, private bedrooms, full sized beds, a hot tub and on-site maintenance seem to make up for the pricey rent.

This past Sunday, many residents took refuge from the hot sun in the Camino del Sol swimming pool located behind the lodge that houses the community center and housing office. Other residents barbequed outside, taking advantage of the free gas grills and shaded areas near them.

The Camino del Sol game room on the second floor of the lodge was deserted in spite of the blasting air conditioning. The two pool tables remained unused, as did the air hockey table and arcade machines. The three flat-screen TVs were off.

On the far wall of the game room by the door, a faux painting of a Barnum & Bailey poster hung on the drab gray wall. The painting featured trapeze artists performing over a grassy landscape of muted green and flat blue skies. They somersaulted and flipped in the open air, hanging forever in the middle of their act.

It is almost as if it were deliberately and perfectly placed in the Camino del Sol room, “Greatest Show On Earth,” read the writing at the top of the painting. “The World’s Largest, Grandest, Best Amusement Institution.”