The Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District joined the ranks of surfers, environmentalists and monarch butterflies Thursday night in support of a proposal to permanently protect over two miles of coastland North of Isla Vista.
The proposal, which was presented by Santa Barbara County Assistant Director of Planning and Development Dianne Meester, marks a compromise between UCSB, Santa Barbara County and private landowners. The proposed plan, tentatively approved in August, offers alternative building land in the Elwood area and will preserve beaches, vernal pools, wetlands, grasslands and one of the state’s largest monarch butterfly groves.
Meester said it was difficult to find a compromise with the many interests involved.
“We have entered into a process to plan this entire area as a whole. This proposal is a balancing act. The big balancing act is preserving this coastal area while developing isolated degraded wetlands,” she said. “It is difficult. There are a lot of difficult decisions to be made. How do you balance between resource protection and public access? There are tradeoffs involved in the whole process. Land is scarce and resources are scarce, too. This is an opportunity we can try to seize and hopefully it will work and hopefully we can do it.”
Members of the IVRPD said the impending Goleta cityhood could threaten the proposal.
“Plans for Goleta cityhood complicate matters. The northern sections owned by the Santa Barbara Development Partnership are within the new Goleta city boundaries. Goleta must buy into this plan for it to succeed,” Meester said.
The proposal also allows for 450-550 units of faculty and student family housing south of the golf course and north of the existing housing on Storke Road, according to Meester.
“We are really excited to be able to support this university housing proposal. It is something we have been in support of for many years,” she said.
IVRPD board member Diane Conn said cooperation between the different interests is important to the success of the proposal.
“I am really happy to see this. Comprehensive cooperation has been preached for so long and it seems to be working. I am really glad that everyone is cooperating. I am really glad this is happening,” she said. “It is important people get involved and informed so the people elected in Goleta are in support of this plan.”
Mark Chaconas, Third District Supervisor Gail Marshall’s assistant, said community involvement was important.
“We’re really taking pains to keep people involved,” he said, “because it is a complex plan.”