The quest for Isla Vista sidewalks, low-cost housing and other improvements inched forward Tuesday.
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved the Isla Vista Redevelopment Agency’s (RDA) plans for extensive improvements to I.V. housing and transportation. The board also formed a Project Area Committee (PAC) consisting of 13 elected members who represent various local interests regarding I.V. Master Plan decisions.
The PAC will consist of one elected tenant, two business owners and one residential owner. In addition, there will be one elected representative from each of the following organizations: the I.V. Association, I.V. Property Owners Association, I.V. Youth Projects, I.V. Tenants Union, Storke Ranch Association, UCSB Associated Students, UCSB Graduate Students Association, Isla Vista Teen Center and the Santa Barbara Student Housing Co-op.
The RDA’s original proposal did not include representatives from the Isla Vista Teen Center or the Santa Barbara Student Housing Co-op, and instead had two tenant representatives and one business owner. During a period of public comment before the final vote, some locals shared fears that long-time Isla Vistan under-representation in the PAC led to the modifications.
I.V. Market owner Wade Johnson said businesses hold a more permanent place in I.V. than most students, and the PAC should reflect their community presence.
“There is too much representation without a long-term commitment to I.V. The average student at UCSB is here less than two years,” he said.
“We want to put together a balanced group, which is why I would also support modifications that would include two business owners in the committee,” said Duncan Mellichamp, Chancellor Henry Yang’s assistant.
I.V. Recreation and Parks District member Harley Augustino said none of the suggested organizations reflect the significant Latino population of Isla Vista.
“The Parks District believes the committee should include Las Familias and the Santa Barbara Student Housing Co-op, and the GSA should be dropped. The big hole in this proposal is the lack of Latino representation,” he said. “The Latinos are very active and have a strong voice. And contrary to popular belief, I.V. is not only a student population; only 50 percent of its residents are students. We are opposed to cutting the two tenant reps to one. We’re the ones who are going to be living here — I’ve never seen any of these property owners in meetings we’ve had in I.V.”
3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall said the approved PAC would represent the Latino population with the addition of the Isla Vista Teen Center.
“The Teen Center hopefully covers the Latino families. They have been involved in the whole redevelopment process, and because of their experience, they will be valuable to the PAC,” she said.
According to Susan Petrovich, a lawyer representing local property owners, forming the PAC went against redevelopment legal codes.
“We are prepared to sue. There is no statutory basis for forming this PAC. The redevelopment agency has no authority outside the project area,” she said. “You should instead consider a Master Plan advisory committee. You are getting yourself into political and legal hot water. If you do decide to continue with the PAC, we urge you to remove the two UCSB groups.”
Marshall said the Board of Supervisors is not worried about the legality of the formation of the committee.
“[Petrovich] was trying to scare the board into not forming a PAC,” Marshall said after the hearing. “The law she was citing was incorrect. Our own council disputed her claims. If they try to sue us they won’t have a leg to stand on.”