Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone will ask members of the Project Area Committee and General Plan Advisory Committee (PAC/GPAC) for $100,000 tonight to help revive Santa Barbara County’s abandoned plans to create a new open-space park on Del Playa Drive.
PAC/GPAC members will discuss Firestone’s request at the committees’ weekly meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the University Religious Center, located at 777 Camino Pescadero. Despite the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors’ decision to end earlier negotiations between the county and the private owners of the land, which is located between 6709 and 6741 DP, Firestone said he is recommending that PAC/GPAC use local redevelopment funds to purchase the five parcels of land in question. Discussion of Firestone’s proposal is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.
“We’ve got a peculiar situation with this park,” Firestone said. “But I said I would go back and reconsider if the circumstances surrounding the park changed – and this is what we have here.”
Firestone said he and his advisors will present the idea, and will then open the floor to questions from PAC/GPAC members and meeting attendees. After that, committee members will make a recommendation to the Goleta redevelopment agency board of directors. While Firestone’s office is suggesting that PAC/GPAC offer $100,000 in redevelopment agency funds to help purchase the park, he said the board’s decision could change the circumstances surrounding the purchase of the property.
“What the [PAC] board needs to do is determine whether it has the money and whether putting $100,000 towards buying Claire’s Park would be a worthwhile expenditure,” Firestone said. “Even a token amount could help,” he said.
Negotiations for the land – dubbed Claire’s Park by members of Isla Vista Surfrider Foundation – have been taking place between the county and the Yankwich family, which owns the five parcels, since 1991. These negotiations ended when the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors decided to terminate the land deal in a closed-session meeting on Feb. 1.
After local environmental activist groups, like I.V. Surfrider and the Shoreline Preservation Fund, publicly disputed the board of supervisors’ decision, the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) Board of Directors considered purchasing the property in order to preserve it as open space. The IVRPD board decided in a Feb 9. meeting that the $2.5 million price tag of the five parcels was too high, making the PAC/GPAC the third organization to officially consider purchasing the property.
Eric Cummings, secretary of I.V. Surfrider, said several members of Surfrider and the Associated Students Environmental Affairs Board will attend the meeting and will present the 3rd District officers with a petition signed by 1,300 Isla Vista residents who support preserving the grassy stretch as open space.
“We’re going because open space is precious in I.V., and we feel that going to the meeting would be an important first step in preserving Claire’s Park as open space,” Cummings said.