Associated Students members and community representatives, who have been meeting for several weeks to discuss a proposed Isla Vista parking permit program, decided last night not to oppose the plan outright.
Rather, the group of about 25 people, meeting in the A.S. building, agreed it would be a better idea to urge the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to delay approving part or all of the plan when they meet May 18. Members of the group – which has doubled in size since its first meeting – said they want more time to organize suggestions for improving the plan so it addresses student and I.V. resident grievances more completely.
“Something needs to be done. It might cause a few problems as a result, but we can’t take an all-or-nothing stance,” said Bryan Brown, a member of the Project Area Committee/General Plan Advisory Committee. “Getting rid of the plan all together is a bad step. We should try to make the plan work for I.V.”
Brown said this is not the first time the county has addressed the parking problem in I.V. with a permit program. A parking initiative involving residential permits was proposed in 1994, but the Board of Supervisors voted it down.
“If this opportunity is not taken, it might be another 10 years before something is done about parking,” said Walter Yuen, an engineering professor and co-chair of the I.V. Action Group.
Yuen said he was in favor of implementing a residential parking permit plan because it would keep visitors out of I.V. who, according to statistics he cited from the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, have been arrested in greater numbers than Santa Barbara City College or UCSB students since February 2004.
“This is a social problem that the permit program might help address,” Yuen said.
The proposed plan would establish parking meters in downtown I.V. and a residential parking permit program throughout I.V. Permits would cost an annual fee of $125 for cars registered in Santa Barbara County and $195 for cars not registered in the county. Non-I.V. residents would be required to purchase a guest permit that would cost $3 per day for the first 15 permits issued to that person and $7 per day for each guest permit purchased after that.
Many who attended the meeting suggested the parking plan be delayed for a year and be implemented in the fall of 2005, instead of fall 2004, in order to work with the planning commission to alter the plan.
“There are enough concerns about alternative transportation, enforcement issues and re-appropriation of funds that we need this plan to be worked on,” Brown said.
Several people talked about implementing the downtown meter portion of the plan this fall, ahead of the permit program, in order to generate funds that could possibly be used to establish an alternative transportation program for easier access between I.V., campus, downtown and the Camino Real Marketplace.
“It would give us time to get these issues worked out until we can roll out the permit part of the plan,” Green said.
Brown said it is difficult to find a solution to the parking problem because of I.V.’s high population density, high rate of car ownership, its close proximity to several commercial districts and its lack of a public transportation system. He also said that because I.V. is an unincorporated area, not a city, it does not receive as much state funding as it could.
“It’s going to take some creative solutions to solve all these problems,” Brown said.