The UC’s stance on the VPA requirement is that is a “Requirement” so unless you have extenuating circumstances such as VPA courses are not offered at your HS which makes it impossible to take a year of VPA, your application will be impacted during the application review.
The UC’s give you several options to fulfill the requirement:
1 Semester 3-4 unit course at a community college or
Score of 3, 4 or 5 on the AP History of Art, Studio Art or Music Theory Exam or
score of 5, 6 or 7 on any one IB HL exam in Dance, Film, Music, Theatre Arts or Visual Arts
If you want to be a competitive applicant, then you as a student need to make it happen and fulfill the requirement.
UC admissions quote:
“While the University of California has a set pattern of academic courses that are required for admission, we understand that these subject requirements may be difficult for some applicants to meet due to differences in school curriculum.
All applications for admission are reviewed within the context of courses available to them; if a particular required subject is not available, we will consider the application without it. We would not deny an applicant due to any one single criteria, therefore if the applicant is otherwise a strong competitive applicant but they are missing the VPA course (1 semester or the entire year) we can still admit that student.
There is no single academic path that we expect all students to follow, but the strongest applicants take the most rigorous high school curriculum available to them including a VPA course.”
Yes it is possible to be admitted without a VPA course but that would on a case by case basis.