Equipped with slides of the best and worst of Isla Vista, Project Area Committee (PAC) members gave the county an idea of their hopes for redevelopment Wednesday night at I.V. Elementary School.
The third PAC meeting of the eight scheduled in the redevelopment process showed signs of efficiency and direction as county planners made an effort to limit excessive comments and ensure the presentations were heard. The PAC, a committee made up of elected and appointed community members to contribute to the redevelopment process, has faced some disagreement and is currently engaged in a lawsuit filed by local business owners. The plaintiffs question the legality of the formation of the PAC and fear the possibility of eminent domain, which could allow the county to buy land without the consent of the owner.
Most of the presentations focused on the problems of housing, lack of sidewalks, and a general lack of architectural aesthetics in the area.
I.V. Tenants Union representative Zoila Cabrera said the incomplete sidewalks and the poor lighting threaten safety in I.V.
“There are a lot of children that cross the streets and need the sidewalks,” she said. “[Some of] the streets are supposed to be one way and sometimes cars come the wrong way.”
The approximately 40 people in attendance began laughing when a slide image of a Del Playa Drive apartment appeared with a driveway filled beyond capacity with cars.
“I think this speaks for itself,” residential owner-occupant and PAC member Janet Stich said. “I like some of these houses where the parking lots are tucked away in the back or on the side – away from the street and the sidewalks.”
Stich said high-rise buildings like Francisco Torres are an eyesore and conflict with I.V.’s character.
“FT is uncommonly large in comparison to the rest of the community and I would hate to make that mistake again,” she said. “I would like the buildings to have less of a homogenous look and avoid the abundance of concrete and lack of landscaping. It’s hard on our senses.”
I.V. business owner Lou Ventura, who had been a vocal member of the PAC, said he was concerned about how the meetings were being handled by the county planners.
“I’m nervous. There’s a lack of trust. I don’t know what’s going on with the university and the county. I feel like we are being left out of things,” he said.
Ventura shared his concerns over the specificity of the agenda minutes of the previous meeting, which he said omitted a statement by university official Duncan Mellichamp. According to Ventura, Mellichamp said, ” ‘Well, if the community doesn’t want [the plan], then [the university] won’t do it.'”
Ventura said he believed meetings should be tape-recorded in the future in order to prevent the omission of important statements.
County Planner Lisa Plowman said recording the meetings and transcribing the meetings would be tedious; instead, she suggested the note taking could be more thorough in the future.
Ventura then agreed to a motion to accept the minutes on the condition that Mellichamp’s statement was included with his consent.
“I’m concerned about the people being comfortable about the process,” Ventura said. “I think the community is very weary about what is going on here.”
The next PAC meeting will be held Feb. 27. The final public presentation of the redevelopment plan is scheduled for April 13.