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Fewer students, more salamanders hold up housing project
STANFORD - Reduced demand for on-campus student housing and an influx of rare tiger salamanders have put a halt to plans for two new undergraduate residences at Stanford University. Construction of the new houses on the south side of the Knoll - including a 60-bed row house with environmentally sensitive design and a 120-bed suite residence - was scheduled to begin in early June. However, housing officials were surprised when no undergraduates asked to be put on the fall campus housing waiting list, compared to 132 students the previous year. "We don't know whether this is an anomaly or the beginning of a trend," said Keith Guy, director of Housing and Food Services. "It may be that current economic conditions are creating a softness in the local housing market, and students are finding more places to live off campus." Guy will head a working group to study the situation and formulate ideas about the next steps to take. That study will be completed and recommendations presented to the Stanford administration in June. A possible alternative to the Knoll houses would be completion of a fourth student residence on the old Manzanita Park trailer site, and additional graduate housing. In addition, repairs are planned to Cooksey House, a 1900 row house damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake. "We don't want to overbuild," Guy said, "but we also don't want to find ourselves coming up short in the next few years." While students have been moving off campus, a smaller species has been moving in. Yellow and black California tiger salamanders, once thought to be extinct, have been sighted more frequently on campus since the January rains, and the Knoll site seems to be one of their favorite hangouts. The university has hired biologists to collect data on the 6- to 8-inch amphibians and develop a habitat conservation plan for them. An interim report on the salamanders is expected in early March.-
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