The controversy surrounding Isla Vista parks continued Monday morning, as local residents protested the county’s plans to sell Del Playa Drive’s Volleyball Park.
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors have decided to sell the park — a small parcel of land featuring a beach volleyball court located at 6635 DP — to help cover a portion of the cost of purchasing the 2.15 acres of open space on the 6700 block known as Claire’s Park. Approximately 50 people signed a petition urging the county to reconsider the sale of the land at a barbecue hosted in the park from 10 a.m. until noon by junior global studies majors Vincent Goble and Yu Matsumoto.
Goble said approximately 250 people have signed the petition to date, and he said he believes that selling the park could result in a loss of public recreational space.
“Most people are opposed to selling the park; more development is not necessary,” Goble said. “When this park is maintained, it’s a chill place to hang out or play volleyball.”
Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone said the sale of Volleyball Park is a necessary trade-off if the county wants to be able to purchase other parcels of land on DP. He said he thought the community would support any plan that would make it financially feasible for the county to acquire Claire’s Park.
“Really, it’s an exchange of park land for park land,” Firestone said. “By filling in some available lots, we have a much larger park.”
Public outcry in favor of preserving Claire’s Park — including an Isla Vista Surfrider Foundation petition signed by more than 800 residents — arose in Feb. 2005 after the board of supervisors announced that it would abandon negotiations to purchase the land. In a reversal of its original decision, the board announced April 5 that it would purchase the property from its private owners.
Professor Mark Juergensmeyer, director of global and international studies, said he was bothered by the lack of communication between the county and I.V. regarding the land deal. He said he feels the county should have held a public hearing to ensure that residents supported the sale of Volleyball Park, which he said is more valuable to I.V. than the currently undeveloped Claire’s Park.
“This is the way the county treats I.V.,” Juergensmeyer said. “They make decisions without ever talking to anyone. Here they’re selling an innocent little park and the county doesn’t bother to talk to anybody about this land deal that no one in the neighborhood cares about.”
Derek Johnson, general manager of the Isla Vista Recreations and Park District, said he supports the sale of Volleyball Park if it is necessary for the preservation of Claire’s Park. He said he thinks the larger space would benefit residents more than several smaller parks spread out.
“I.V. doesn’t suffer from a shortage of park space, but a shortage of conglomeration of parcels,” Johnson said.