As the Isla Vista Master Plan – approximately four years in the making – enters its last few months of development, Santa Barbara County officials are beginning to consider methods of actually implementing the project.
In its meeting today, the county Board of Supervisors will decide whether or not to transfer the responsibility of implementing the master plan from the Redevelopment Agency and the Planning and Development Office to the Developing Program’s division of the county executive’s office on July 1, 2005. Under the proposal, county Executive Officer Mike Brown said the executive’s office would appoint an administrator to oversee the actual implementation of the master plan and the coordination of various groups who would contribute to the implementation, such as the Public Works Committee, Housing and Community Development Dept. and local law enforcement organizations.
Brown said transferring control of the plan’s implementation would allow someone who specializes in project implementation, not planning, to have oversight of the project. He said the actual creation of the master plan dealt primarily with planning and regulations, but enacting the improvements would require a different set of skills.
“Adding oversight from the executive officer will help implement the plan by providing advice on marketing, analyzing finances and resources and assisting the people who live and own property in the area to expedite the redevelopment process,” Brown said.
In 2001 the county executive office suggested the Board of Supervisors create an executive position to oversee implementation of the plan. Brown said the board ruled to hold off on such a decision until the Redevelopment Agency was closer to finishing the plan – a process he said should be finished by July.
If the proposal is approved, Brown said Terri Maus-Nisich, the assistant county executive officer, would take on the responsibility of overseeing implementation of the project in addition to her current duties. He said Maus-Nisich would serve as the county liaison in working with redevelopers in I.V. – specifically Jamie Goldstein, project manager of the master plan – as well as with UCSB to enact a number of projects including blufftop land purchases, adding streetlights, road and housing improvements, sidewalk repair and the provision of recreational facilities.
Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone said he supports the proposal because it would bring more immediate improvements into I.V. He said he first considered the proposal a few months ago after the county auditor-controller issued a management report to the Isla Vista Project Area Committee/General Planning Advisory Committee (PAC/GPAC), the group which provides community input to the Redevelopment Agency regarding the master plan. Firestone said the management report stated that the PAC/GPAC was spending too much money on planning instead of executing the plan.
“This position would really put into effect more actual doing of things instead of just planning,” Firestone said. “The success of this individual would be measured by things actually happening in I.V.”
Firestone said he thinks the proposal will be approved at today’s meeting because the university and groups such as the PAC/GPAC have voiced their support.
“I think this is a very logical and very well spelled out plan,” Firestone said. “I don’t know of anyone who is opposed to it.”
Brown said he is uncertain whether or not the board will approve the county executive’s recommendation, but said he thinks certain aspects of the proposal would allow the redevelopment plan to be more successful. In addition to “jump-starting implementation” of the plan, Brown said the proposal of a draft environmental impact report (EIR) could provide alternatives to make the master plan more financially feasible.
“In looking at the project, one concern is if it’s strong enough to provide the kind of property taxes that people would need to actually do what they want to with these improvements,” Brown said.
By making buildings taller to include more underground parking or implementing off-site parking plans, suggestions he said might be included in the draft EIR, Brown said he thinks the county will be able to meet the needs of property owners in I.V. and execute the redevelopment plans.
“The ultimate purpose is to have I.V. develop into an interesting, fun and diverse village where people could do things like shopping,” Brown said. “There are some good things here now, but we also look at other university communities where there are these things happening.”
Even if this proposal is approved at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting today, Brown said the whole project is still contingent on the master plan receiving approval by the Board of Supervisors and the California Coastal Commission. He said board will probably review the master plan this summer, and said the Coastal Commission will make its decision afterwards.