The Project Area Committee and General Plan Advisory Committee (PAC/GPAC) considered two programs at its meeting Wednesday that could help make Isla Vista streets brighter and easier for pedestrians to navigate.
PAC/GPAC members voted at the 6:30 p.m. meeting to recommend that the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approve Lights On Isla Vista – a program that would give local teens the opportunity to work for the county monitoring and maintaining local streetlights. Jamie Goldstein, project manager for the Santa Barbara County Office of Planning and Development, also proposed that the committee approve a plan to create three walkways that would allow pedestrians to cut through the middle of the 6700 blocks of Pasado Road, Trigo Road and Sabado Tarde Road to reach Del Playa Drive.
Goldstein said the walkways would allow people to cut between the houses on each street on their way to and from DP, making it faster and safer for pedestrians who would otherwise have to go around to the end of the block.
The walkways would be built on two 20-foot wide strips of county land, located at the east and west end of each block. Currently, Goldstein said, neighboring residents use the land as a parking area or space for trashcans, and some of the property owners have built fences without the permission of the county to prevent pedestrians from walking through the area.
“We own the property,” Goldstein said. “There are some encroachments, but we own it.” Lou Ventura, a PAC/GPAC member, said he is concerned the access ways would be built too close to the neighboring homes on each block, and said he thinks they could end up posing an inconvenience to the people who live in those houses.
“It’s going to definitely have an effect on those properties,” Ventura said. “If it’s two o’clock or three o’clock in the morning and people are hooting and hollering, it will diminish the lifestyle. I am concerned about the people who have to live there.”
Though PAC/GPAC members only decided to table the discussion of access ways until a later meeting, Goldstein said he was still glad they devoted time to the issue. The access ways are already an item in the I.V. Master Plan, but he said a decision from PAC/GPAC could potentially move the start date of the project forward.
“The nice thing is it doesn’t require [California] Coastal Commission’s approval – it will require staff time,” Goldstein said. ” I want to know, what is the priority, is this something that should be moved ahead?”
PAC/GPAC member Mike Foley said Santa Barbara YMCA Youth and Family Services began developing the Lights On Isla Vista program in 2003, after a survey of 921 students at Dos Pueblos High School found that 31 percent of the participants reported not feeling like they performed useful roles in their community. Under the program, which is estimated to cost roughly $5,700 per year, local teenagers would be hired to patrol I.V. periodically, looking for streetlights that are burnt out or malfunctioning.
“We propose giving this responsibility over to Isla Vista youth through an adult-supervised system,” Foley said. “Isla Vista teens would both report light outages, and will also make periodic sweeps as a group through the community in order to assure that streetlights are working.”
Funding for the program has not yet been secured, but Foley said he thinks Lights On Isla Vista will garner community support because statistics show that areas with working streetlights have lower crime rates than areas without adequate lighting.