In its meeting Wednesday morning, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) will determine the fate of free on-street parking in Isla Vista.
Following an appeal filed by the Santa Barbara chapter of the Surfrider Foundation in December 2004, the CCC has revised the Santa Barbara County planning agency’s proposal for a parking permit plan in I.V. to increase the amount of free coastal access that would be available once the plan is implemented. In light of these changes, the CCC has issued a staff recommendation in favor of approving the plan.
As originally proposed, the plan consisted of a metered commercial zone with a 45-minute time limit, two residential zones – one with a one-hour time limit and 106 parking spots designated as coastal access with a time restriction of four hours per user. Santa Barbara Surfrider appealed the plan based on the restrictions placed on coastal access because, as stated in the Coastal Act of 1976, the purpose of the CCC is to protect and conserve coastal land for public use. Under the revised plan, the four-hour time limit would not apply to daytime hours between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
“The Surfrider Foundation supports the modifications to the parking plan,” SB Surfrider Vice Chair Bob Keats said. “The permit program would only apply at night, which wouldn’t affect coastal access during the day.”
Keats said the revised plan adequately balances the differing needs of the county and the people who use the beach.
“The county would still get their revenue from the permits and coastal access would not be affected,” he said.
Also under the revised parking program, the two residential zones would be combined into one “parking management area” in which on-street parking would be restricted to four hours per car between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. for those who do not purchase the annual residential parking permit. The cost for the annual permit would remain at $95 for vehicles registered in Santa Barbara County and $150 for vehicles registered outside of the county.
Despite Surfrider’s satisfaction with the revision, many UCSB students and I.V. residents remain unhappy with the renewed proposal. Chaz Watley, Students’ Party candidate for Associated Students president, said she has been taking action by leaving fliers on cars parked on the streets that at first glance look like a parking citation.
“There’s information on the flier about exactly how much the permits are going to cost and how people can get informed,” Watley said. “There’s also going to be a carpool to the hearing because it’s really inaccessible to students.”
The carpool to the hearing will meet in front of Bagel Café on the corner of Trigo Road and Embarcadero del Mar at 9 a.m. The CCC hearing will be at the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., at 10 a.m.
“The plan is a waste of energy and a waste of resources and it’s going to create more problems than it will help,” Watley said. “We do need less cars in I.V., but this plan is not the way to do it.”
Watley’s complaints about the plan included the financial impact on low-income students and families and the fact that revenue raised by the plan will not go back into I.V.
“The main argument for the plan is that it will prevent outside commuters from parking in I.V. Sure there are some commuters, but the bulk of cars that park in I.V. actually [belong] to residents,” Watley said. “This plan is not going to guarantee spaces and it’s not going to create new spaces.”
Students’ Party has also been collecting signatures on a petition that will be presented to the CCC during the hearing. A.S. external vice president running for re-election Felicia Cruz said the purpose of the petition is to present a unified student voice at the hearing.
“We want them to know that, as students, we’re against this plan,” Cruz said. “The meeting’s being held downtown even though it affects I.V. and it’s really inconvenient for most students to attend.”
Cruz said around 300 signatures protesting the plan have already been collected.
“The problem we have is that it’s a lot of money for students and low-income families,” Cruz said. “Yes, the students that can pay for it are going to pay for it, but this plan is not providing any solutions.”
Diane Conn, program director for Citizens for Goleta Valley, said the county’s original proposal would be far more beneficial to the community than the CCC’s revision.
“The county’s plan is designed to get rid of UCSB commuters and Manzanita [Village] residents so I.V. residents have a place to park,” Conn said. “The bottom line for Surfrider is they don’t want anything to change. They just want to park on the west end of campus for free all the time, which I can understand, but they don’t care what it’s like to live in I.V.”
Conn said the county’s original proposal includes provisions for expanded alternative transportation, including increased bus service and a car-sharing program.
“Every environmentalist in the South Coast should be supporting this program,” Conn said. “It’s ridiculous to subvert the whole community of I.V. just to have coastal access.”