The housing destiny of the class of 2010 was under discussion at a two-evening Isla Vista planning meeting.
Several dozen I.V. residents and property owners viewed design plans for new housing possibilities and commented on proposed revisions to the Isla Vista Master Plan during Wednesday and Thursday evening meetings of the I.V. Project Area Committee [PAC] and General Plan Advisory Committee [GPAC].
The two meetings, which convened at the University Religious Center on Camino Pescadero, included presentations by the Santa Barbara County Planning and Development Dept. and the Berkeley-based Opticos Design firm.
Opticos designer Daniel Parolek said the new housing types include a linear courtyard plan, a large home plan and a courtyard plan. The different layout designs feature concealed off-street car and bike parking, efficient acreage per unit management and appropriate aesthetic appearance considerations that complement current I.V. architectural character.
“The housing types look great,” PAC/GPAC board member Joel Silverman said. “They can work in Isla Vista.”
Although the majority of the PAC/GPAC board commented favorably on the proposals, several members expressed concerns regarding the aesthetic limitations and the potential for solutions that don’t adequately address specific problems in Isla Vista.
“I’m worried that these [three designs] are all we’re going to have,” PAC/GPAC board member and property owner Lou Ventura said. “We’ll have the same buildings repeated over and over and over. The designs look great in the photos, but in the real Isla Vista, the linear courtyard design won’t accommodate larger trucks like U-Hauls.”
Other board members said the linear courtyard design was also flawed because it would make garbage collection very difficult because of the distance tenants would have to drag the trash bins from the back of the property to the street.
“When it rains the garbage bins become very heavy and hard to carry,” board member Zoila Cabrera said.
In addition to the potential housing design considerations, PAC/GPAC board members and community members expressed concern about the significant lack of affordable housing in I.V.
Jamie Goldstein, lead project manager for the Santa Barbara County Comprehensive Planning Division said that no affordable housing overlay sites have currently been identified in the I.V. project area.
Goldstein said current Santa Barbara County affordable housing rules provide incentives for private sector developers to set aside a portion of their units for lower income families.
However, PAC/GPAC board members said these incentives are not working and need revision because limitations on parking places per unit often cost developers a large portion of their potential revenue.
“I think we lack affordable housing but I see a big hurdle,” PAC/GPAC board member Craig Geyer said. “It’s just not feasible for a developer. I own a lot on the corner of Pardall, if I build five units and have to give up one, I’d rather keep it vacant, which I have for 13 years.”