An audience of approximately 25 business owners and community members gathered to watch the Project Area Committee hold its first meeting in the University Religious Center on Pardall Road Tuesday night.
The PAC – a group of 13 Isla Vista community members – will make recommendations to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors concerning I.V. redevelopment.
The committee includes two business owners, one residential tenant and one residential owner, who were elected on Oct. 30, as well as representatives from nine local organizations, including UCSB Associated Students.
At the meeting, held to give residents an opportunity to meet the committee, County Supervising Planner Lisa Plowman said she was looking forward to working with the community to ensure that I.V. has a positive future.
“Virtually all the reports say the same thing: Isla Vista needs improvement,” she said. “Now’s the opportunity to implement some change and help those issues that have needed help for so, so long. This is really our chance to help the community.”
UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang, who also attended the meeting, said he was tremendously excited about the new committee and its plans to help I.V.’s future.
“I would like to congratulate the new members of the PAC. On behalf of UCSB, I would like to thank you for your dedication,” he said. “We are deeply committed to this project.”
Yang said the project had been in the works for many years and that he was thrilled the PAC was having its first meeting.
“We must all work hard and closely to create a plan that will succeed in helping Isla Vista step boldly into the future,” he said.
The PAC is facing a lawsuit filed by various I.V. business owners who feel they are unfairly represented on the committee. Business owners say they fear the redevelopment agency’s power of eminent domain, which could allow the county to buy land from property owners without their consent.
Lou Ventura, who participated in filing the lawsuit and is one of the business owner representatives on the PAC, said he plans to stay active in the planning process.
“[Business owners] want to make sure I.V. businesses stay viable and continue to suit I.V.’s culture,” he said. “We are also very concerned about the students losing the ability to live on Del Playa. We want to preserve those blufftop properties.”