Del Playa Drive residents returning from spring break may have been pleasantly surprised when they stepped out of their car onto one of the many new sidewalks in Isla Vista.

The new sidewalks are mainly located on Del Playa between Camino Pescadero and Camino Del Sur, and include two new disabled access ramps.

The $20,000 sidewalk construction and repairs were funded from an approximately $2 million pool set aside over the past two years by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors. The money is intended for I.V. road, sidewalk and beach access repairs. In April 2000, the Board of Supervisors allocated approximately $1.1 million from their 2000-2001 budget towards resurfacing18 I.V. roads and sidewalks including much of the 6600-6800 blocks, the Embarcadero loop and El Colegio Road.

Third District Supervisor Gail Marshall said that because installation of sidewalks was not required in the 1960s and 70s when many of the Isla Vista residences were constructed, sidewalks are dangerously scarce in I.V. She said the large amount of pedestrian traffic in I.V. has made sidewalks a priority.

“Building new sidewalks will hopefully lead to a safer community for pedestrians, bicyclists and automobiles,” she said. “This action is just one step toward making Isla Vista a safer place to live.”

Another $787,000 was approved by the board on June 19, 2001, to repave the remaining seven I.V. roads, repair sidewalks, rebuild beach access ways and fix plumbing problems on Sueno Road.

According to Eric Pearson, a county public works official, $365,000 of that money was designated by Marshall for I.V. sidewalks repairs. All road and sidewalk improvements are slated for completion before July 2002.

Not all I.V. community members are pleased with the new walkways, however. Some residents believe the construction of sidewalks is taking away parking spaces – which they say is solving one problem by escalating another.

Senior global studies and Japanese major Nick Arseniak said the dirt easement where he used to park his car in front of his 6600-block Del Playa house is now a pedestrian pathway.

“They came in and paved the place where we’re supposed to park,” he said. “There’s barely enough parking in I.V. as is and now there’s less. People are going to walk on the streets of DP no matter what unless the police enforce it.”

Pearson said the sidewalks were built within county roadway easement, meaning the land is owned by the county and was never actually designated for parking spaces.