An Isla Vista master plan submission from the East Coast seeks to substitute auto traffic on Pardall Road with electric-powered shuttle buses to blur the lines between campus and community.
The "Urban CORR-idor" design submitted in the I.V. Master Plan Design Competition by di Domenico and Partner, an architecture and urban-design firm based in New York, N.Y., focuses on the importance of integrating different sectors of the community with the university. If selected, the plan will be implemented in three phases and be completed in approximately 15 years.
The CORR-idor plan designates Pardall Road as both the "core" of I.V. and the connecting link between the university and community, according to architect Kenji Suzuki.
"When we looked at the entire problem as a whole, within the context of Isla Vista, the way it exists in the Goleta Valley and is surrounded by the university on either side, Pardall Road becomes a natural extension of all that, a sort of connector between the two sides of the university," he said. "We believe it’s not only a street, it’s more of a strip that provides for interventions on either side. Those interventions could be housing, community development and the downtown core."
Each of the three phases of the CORR-idor plan is projected to take five years and will focus on a different element in the community, Suzuki said.
"In the first phase, we really focused on developing what we would call the ‘downtown core area.’ It would revitalize retail, which would generate income through taxes and otherwise, that would provide for the subsequent second and third phase," he said. "The housing that is developed during the first phase will be mostly student housing and some multi-family housing along Pardall. In the second phase, we really start to concentrate more on the multi-family housing and developing the retail along the southern part of the downtown core. In phase three, we focus mostly on the street itself, on connecting Pardall Road and providing the housing on either side – it really increases the density of the housing in that area."
Although the plan proposes a variety of changes and additions within I.V., it is based upon the overriding theme of community integration, Suzuki said.
"We think all the areas are important because they are all integrated, one with the other," he said. "The very nature of a community is that all of these things are happening at once – housing doesn’t define a community, commercial development doesn’t define a community, a street doesn’t define a community. Instead, a community is defined through the interaction of all these elements. It’s not really that one is more important than the other, you have to step back and see the big picture."
The proposal’s new vision of Pardall Road would stretch from the proposed Campus Entry Plaza to Estero Road, Suzuki said.
"The Campus Entry Plaza is a part of the whole interface between the campus and Isla Vista. It really functions as a collector where our proposed electric bus shuttles that go from one side of [Pardall] to the other can turn around, and where you can come and get on the bus," he said. "It also provides a clearer route for the bicycles going down. The plan turns Pardall into mostly a pedestrian-oriented street with electrical shuttles and a bike path going down the middle. The new Pardall would not be a street where cars could go up and down, but rather a place for walking, bicycle paths, and limited to the electrical bus shuttle that would be able to pass through the street."
The proposed Campus Entry Plaza is intended to break down the boundaries between I.V. and campus, consulting architect John di Domenico said.
"The plaza, as a location, blurs the lines between the two communities – is it part of the university or is it the terminus of Pardall? That’s what we would want," he said. "It is the place where there’s this overlay of the community and the university. So there might be, for example, some stores, some retail, coffee shops, but upstairs there might be some university offices and activities related to the university. So there is a kind of blurring of its ownership, so to speak, and it really becomes the place where the community and the university merge."
While Suzuki acknowledges the parking problem evident in I.V., the CORR-idor plan focuses on making streets more pedestrian friendly.
"Parking is a problem and shall forever be a problem with the transitory population of students being so high and everyone needing parking," he said. "We’ve addressed that problem by limiting parking along streets, especially along Pardall, but in addition we’ve added some additional parking in the downtown area and additional parking in what we call the community zone."
The CORR-idor plan also proposes the reclamation of Del Playa Drive bluff areas where erosion is posing a danger to the properties by taking out some housing and creating a bicycle path, Suzuki said.
"We’ve proposed what we call the Bluff Reclamation Zone, which is actually looking at the redevelopment plan that is currently in place by the Santa Barbara Planning Commission. We are putting a bicycle path through there that will be environmentally sensitive," he said. "It would be more of a park path rather than a strong asphalt path."
Suzuki said protection and conservation of the environment played a major role in the CORR-idor plan’s bluff reclamation concept.
"The open space created by the reclamation of properties along the bluffs would provide an opportunity for what we call clean energy sources. We could put wind turbines up there, we could put solar panels and things of that nature," he said. "Which if you take that into account would provide for not only an environmentally smart place, but also for a very picturesque view where you could conceivably ride your bike down the bluff path and see the ocean and these wind turbines producing clean energy for the area."
Suzuki said the driving issue behind the CORR-idor plan was the need for integration and interaction between all sections of I.V. and the university.
"The most pressing issue, I think, is the fact that there is not a dialogue between all the people and all the things that are occurring in Isla Vista. We’ve been looking at newspaper reports and you have the landlords on one side, the planning commission on the other," he said. "You have the students on another side, and the residents on another and it doesn’t seem to be a common consensus. If anything, this master plan is just a process to bring all those varying viewpoints together to one place. How do we provide a program for Isla Vista in the future which everyone can be a part of and feel proud of?"
The master plan is in its earliest stages, di Domenico said, and the emphasis is on the process right now.
"We tried to highlight key issues, issues about the community, about housing, about the environment, but more importantly the process whereby all of the parties affected by life in Isla Vista can come together and a consensus can emerge," he said. "This is by no means the master plan, this is really intended to illustrate the issues and a process which really begins when our team is asked to join with Isla Vista."