Time is ticking down to the installation of parking meters in Isla Vista, which could start collecting coins and flashing violation signs as early as fall 2003.

In September 2002, members of the I.V. Project Area Committee/General Plan Advisory Committee (PAC/GPAC) sent a letter to the board of directors of the Santa Barbara County Redevelopment Agency urging them to “… immediately take the steps necessary to install parking meters in the commercial district of Isla Vista.”

The commercial district of I.V. includes the Embarcadero Loop south of and including Pardall Road, and several hundred feet of Madrid, Seville and Trigo Roads intersecting with Embarcadero del Mar and Embarcadero del Norte.

Dave Ward, Santa Barbara County supervising planner, said the meters should increase space turnover, which would prevent students from parking in the downtown I.V. area to avoid on-campus fees. Increased space turnover would also increase access to local businesses.

“Parking is one of the most important issues to the community,” Ward said. “There’s the concern with UCSB overflow parking, but the easiest way to fix that is to look at some sort of parking restriction program to allow for greater turnover in the existing commercial district and the revitalized downtown district.”

Ward said the meters should also help encourage pedestrian-oriented alternatives to automobiles.

According to data collected by Associated Traffic Engineers, nearly 1,400 UCSB commuters park in I.V. and walk to campus per day.

Isla Vista Recreation and Park District General Manager Derek Johnson said the IVRPD board has not taken a stance on the possibility of parking meter installation.

“What it comes down to is that there is a deficit of parking in Isla Vista,” Johnson said. “Imagine if you could free up 1,200 spaces. Placing restrictions on parking is the only way to do that, because naturally people are going to park in I.V. all day and then walk or skateboard to school to avoid the on-campus fee.”

However, opponents to the parking meter recommendation say the meters will not necessarily increase availability of parking and will not encourage greater automobile traffic to local businesses.

“It’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” said Kit Del Marsh, owner of the Isla Vista Bicycle Boutique. His shop, located on the corner of Pardall and Embarcadero Del Mar, will be affected by possible meter installation.

“It will discourage people from coming to town. You don’t have to pay to go to Costco.”

Lyepeng Lau, owner of the Blue Dolphin Caf