Members of the Project Area Committee and General Plan Advisory Committee met at the University Religious Center last night to discuss the funding status of the Isla Vista Master Plan and the possibility of installing a public restroom on Del Playa Drive.
As part of an annual financial audit, Robert Geis, the Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller, said that as of June 30, 2004, the balance of the Redevelopment Agency’s (RDA) general fund was $775,850. According to the audit, since the inception of the project, the RDA has spent $3,650,191 on consulting and planning activities. Several PAC/GPAC members said they were angry because close to $4 million has been spent, but I.V. has not seen any results.
“The agency has lost money in the 14 years of its existence,” said Craig Geyer, local business owner and PAC/GPAC member. “People are overspending.”
One of Geis’ PowerPoint slides, which said that the “Master Plan lacks a comprehensive economic viability component,” incited further criticism from some committee members.
“It’s a terrific misdirection of funds … someone needs to be fired,” said Joel Silverman, member of the I.V. Property Owners Association. “It just boggles my mind. There’s something wrong with the process when an RDA can be in existence for 14 years before you say it’s not economically viable. This process has been a failure.”
After a nearly two-hour discussion, the committee moved to defer the discussion until a later meeting.
Mark Chaconas, assistant to Gail Marshall, 3rd District county supervisor, presented the findings of a public restroom feasibility study for Del Playa Drive. He said the study, funded by a Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund grant of between $25,000 and $30,000, identifies eight possible I.V. locations for a public bathroom.
The PAC/GPAC voted to recommend three of the sites to the county board of supervisors, who will investigate the locations and decide whether they will construct the restrooms.
The committee voted six to three, with two abstaining, to recommend the studied locations at Pescadero Blufftop Park, Pelican Park and undeveloped county land on the 6700 block of DP.
Several committee members disagreed as to whether installing a bathroom on Del Playa was appropriate for the community.
“This is not a simple subject; it’s a complex issue. I feel with the demographic here, most people who use the parks live in a one-mile radius and do not need a bathroom. My concern about public restrooms is about attracting an idle person. I’m not sure we have the right demographic at this time,” said Janet Stitch, the residential owner-occupant representative on the PAC/GPAC. Stitch said that having a public restroom where people congregate “is only inviting trouble.”
“I don’t want to see our parks a place where the majority of people don’t want to go,” she said.
The lack of a public bathroom “usually ends up in tickets for public urination,” said Todd Roberson, the new UCSB Associated Students PAC/GPAC representative. “Students would be supportive of a public bathroom at Sea Lookout Park. I would recommend having a public bathroom on both ends of DP.”
While the I.V. tenant representative and PAC/GPAC member, Chandler Briggs, said that he supports the bathrooms in theory, he said “they would get trashed, especially on weekends.”
Diane Conn, a director of the Isla Vista Recreation and Park Districts, said she supported the installation of bathrooms as long as they are accessible to pedestrians on DP.
“I wanted them to be on the access ways to serve the students on party nights, so they won’t pee on the stairs all night,” Conn said. “It’s a health and safety issue. A bathroom is safer than a bush.”