The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission met Nov. 4 to evaluate updates to the Isla Vista Master Plan (IVMP), focusing mainly on the issue of parking in I.V. and ultimately recommending continued parking surveys before the implementation of a permit program.
The meeting followed a Sept. 2 Commission hearing at which I.V. residents requested more information about a 2013 parking survey that found I.V. had a street parking vacancy rate above 15 percent. The IVMP mandates regular street parking surveys and stipulates that if the survey finds a parking vacancy rate below 15 percent for three consecutive UCSB academic quarters, the county will implement a permit parking program to bring parking vacancy rates back above the 15 percent mark. Many I.V. residents take issue with the 2013 survey findings, claiming I.V. parking is more impacted than the survey suggested and requires a more immediate solution. The Commission ultimately voted to recommend IVMP’s existing decision to continue surveys before implementing a permit program.
Deputy Director of Long Range Planning Division Matt Schneider said parking surveys, conducted by Fehr and Peers Transportation Consultants, help monitor parking vacancy rates.
“The purpose of the parking survey … is to monitor the vacancy rate, with 15 percent vacancy rate being the tipping point,” Schneider said. “Based on the current data we have available, we are below that threshold. There certainly will be a need once we cross that to develop a more robust parking program.”
Planning Commission member Daniel Blough said a parking survey is not necessary, as parking in I.V. is clearly impacted.
“On that one issue I just can’t see wasting the money or the time,” Blough said. “I don’t need a survey to tell me there is a problem.”
Planning Commission member Joan Hartmann said parking surveys should monitor parking until results “trigger” a program.
“It may be that we already have a strong sense that there is not enough parking, that it has already met the trigger since that survey was done in 2013, but I think we need ongoing surveys to see if there is change,” Hartmann said. “It is mrely a monitoring program and if we have other strategies to deal with parking, then we would like to see those changes on the ground.”
Hartmann said UCSB faculty and staff parking may be impacting I.V. due to insufficient on-campus parking, meaning improved UCSB parking could help I.V.
“Maybe there are other things in addition to the parking permit program that we can be working on,” Hartmann said.
Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees member and UCSB alum Jonathan Abboud said I.V. should have a way to locally oversee the proposed permit program.
“I personally would support moving the plan forward now, but we should have an Area Planning Commission in Isla Vista in the future to oversee the implementation of the plan to make it more community-reflective and more community-based,” Abboud said.
Associated Students College of Letters and Science collegiate senator and third-year history of public policy major Ashcon Minoiefar said I.V. needs an effective parking solution because many students depend on cars for transportation.
“Oftentimes, it is dismissed that students need cars, but oftentimes it is very vital that they have them, so adequate parking really needs to be considered,” Minoiefar said. “The landlords’ use of high parking fees for their parking spots is an issue.”
The Commission will send its recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, which will consider the revised IVMP this winter. If the Board adopts the updates, it will submit the IVMP to the California Coastal Commission in Santa Barbara County in Spring 2016.
A version of this story appeared on page 6 of the Thursday, November 5, 2015 print edition of the Daily Nexus.