Leaders from around the county and citizens from within the community gathered last night at the University Religious Center to take part in an Isla Vista Town Hall meeting.
The meeting addressed UCSB plans for development on its west- and north-campus properties – located at Ellwood shores, an environmentally sensitive habitat area protected under the California Coastal Act.
The properties were originally purchased with the intent of providing adequate housing for faculty members and graduate students. However, the standards of coastal preservation, as outlined by the act, have made it difficult for UCSB to develop. In August, the university, Santa Barbara County and private developers reached a tentative agreement to preserve certain areas of the land while developing on others.
Dianne Meester, assistant director of the Santa Barbara County Planning Dept., said the coastline preservation will provide a clean, user-friendly atmosphere for leisure and activities.
“There will be 2.25-mile coastline that will generally be accessible to students and community members,” she said. “The coastline will also be accompanied by a vast number of hiking trails and nature walks.”
Everett Kirkelie, UCSB’s acting vice chancellor of administrative services, said the campus’ development plans have been difficult to initiate.
“It’s been a real challenge to organize housing for students and faculty members on land that is so precious,” he said.
UCSB plans to increase the number of available beds for undergraduates, graduates and faculty members in the future, Kirkelie said. Manzanita Village, a primarily first- and second -year residence hall bordering I.V., will open in the fall of next year and will be able to hold 800 students. Additionally, San Clemente, a planned housing complex for graduate students, will open in either 2004 or 2005.
Mark Chaconas, assistant to 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall, said he is confident the development will decrease the human congestion in I.V.
“Even though [the development] is not dedicated for all the everyday people, it will really relieve some of the housing pressure in I.V.,” he said.
Kirkelie said the increase in student housing could help assuage local housing woes.
“One thing that I’ve seen over the years is that as prices increase, so does density,” he said. “So really this is looking to better the quality of life in I.V.”