Santa Barbara County planners and architects heard complaints about Isla Vista housing and transportation problems Wednesday as part of a series of community workshops held this week in order to “ReVision I.V.”
The workshops – which were sponsored by architects from the Berkeley-based company Opticos Design, the county and the I.V. Recreation and Parks District – focused on specific housing, parking and transportation issues, and were designed to solicit community input in order to develop a Master Plan for I.V. that reflects the needs of the residents.
Planners said they blame the current parking problem on the excessive number of cars in I.V., which causes both traffic and parking problems in the dense neighborhood.
Consultant planner Jeff Tumlin said he believes the implementation of a parking permit system in I.V., similar to the one used at the university, would be an effective method of reducing congestion.
“Parking is never free. Someone always has to pay for it. The best way is for a parking system to pay for itself,” Tumlin said. “It is a pretty radical concept to ask people of pay for parking on the streets in front of their homes. But, we hope people will start using alternative transportation instead.”
Based on a phone survey conducted by the county, 10 percent of I.V. undergraduate residents drive to school every day and 50 percent said they drive at least once a week. The county also reported that many students and faculty park in I.V. and walk to UCSB because they do not want to pay the annual $300 fee for on-campus parking.
The density of I.V. was also discussed at the workshop, specifically the lack of affordable housing.
Planners and architects said they want to add affordable housing units in I.V. and hope the county will pass rent controls so landlords would not be able to raise rent for the next 30 to 50 years.
In addition to increasing the availability and quality of housing in I.V., the workshop focused discussion on minimizing the geographical division of family and student residences. Planners said they envision a community in which students and families of all income brackets live side by side. However, many community members said they disagreed because the idea is not practical in application.
“I think [Del Playa Drive] is somewhat a stretch, but that’s not to say that families won’t want to or don’t already live on Sabado or Trigo, or any other street in Isla Vista,” said Mark Chaconas, the assistant to 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall.
An I.V. resident said she thought economic incentives should be provided to single families, graduate students and civil servants to live in these areas of I.V., and act as a “civilizing influence.”
Graduate Student Association External President Edward Collins said he is concerned about the lack of student presence at the workshops.
“We really need a greater student participation in the planning process,” he said. “I believe that information and voices are not being heard as well as they should be.”