Elections for representatives to the Isla Vista Project Area Committee will be held today, despite a pending lawsuit and restraining order filed by I.V. business owners to protest the formation of the PAC.
Residents can cast their votes at the I.V. Teen Center from noon to 8 p.m. for the positions of residential tenant, residential owner-occupant and two business owner positions on the committee. Voters will only be eligible to vote for a representative from the category they most identify with, and must fill out a certificate of eligibility form and present photo identification.
The PAC is intended to represent the community interests in the development of the I.V. Master Plan – scheduled for completion in 2004 – which seeks to provide additional housing, while improving parking problems, transportation deficiencies and sidewalks. However, business owners fear the possibility of eminent domain, which allows the county to purchase privately owned land whether or not the owner wants to sell.
Sam’s To Go owner Mehrdad Homayouni said various business owners in the area have joined to file a lawsuit and restraining order in an attempt to prevent the existence of the PAC.
“The reason we think the PAC is illegal is because it is against county laws. We don’t think the redevelopment agency has the right to do what they are doing. Most of the groups don’t have anything to do with the situation. This is not good for business,” he said.
Project Manager Jaime Goldstein said he plans to continue with the election today unless a judge rules in favor of the business owners.
Michael E. Lebell, John Bennett, Henry Sarria and Lucero Marquez are the candidates for the residential tenant position. Candidates for the two business owner positions are: Craig Geyer from Central Service and Supply, Lou Ventura from Ventura Enterprises, Carrie Frandsen from Isla Vista Food Cooperative, Dorothy Dent from Isla Vista Bicycle Boutique and Tom Parsal from Mac’s Market. Janet Stich is the only candidate for the residential owner-occupant position.
In addition, there will be one appointed representative from each of the following organizations to the 13-member PAC: I.V. Association, I.V. Property Owners Association, I.V. Youth Projects, I.V. Tenants Union, Storke Ranch Association, UCSB Associated Students, UCSB Graduate Student Association, I.V. Teen Center and the Santa Barbara Student Housing Co-op.
Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District general manager Derek Johnson said he hopes 1,000 students will turn out for the election.
“While someone who is voting now might not see the final product of the plan … they should go out knowing they are doing it for tomorrow.” he said. “Unfortunately, I.V. turnout has been kind of poor in the past.”
GSA External President Edward Collins said the association is still looking for a representative to appoint to the PAC.
“We need a representative of graduate students at large – someone who would look at the big picture, not just housing, or just parking or just safety. The problem is complex. It deserves a comprehensive analysis and consideration of the problems involved,” he said. “This is a marvelous opportunity for growth in the social and physical environment of a large proportion of the university.”
Johnson said voting for PAC representatives is important to the future of I.V.
“Vote to be involved in the master plan process, the future. It does matter; there is a general common interest in the quality of life we have here,” he said.