The Isla Vista Master Plan moved one step closer to implementation with the recent release of the Environmental Impact Report — a document outlining potentially positive and negative effects of the plan.
Released May 10, the report now goes to Isla Vista residents for evaluation and input. The I.V. Project Area Committee and General Plan Advisory Committee are hosting workshops on the report’s findings in the Francisco Torres Residence Hall Linda Vista Room on May 31 and June 8. Public comment ends on June 30.
After community input is received, the EIR will go before the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors for final approval.
According to the EIR, land use, zoning and ordinance changes proposed in the Master Plan would allow construction of up to 1,447 new residential units and 400 additional parking spaces. The increase in housing units could reduce rental rates in the community as supply is increased, but a potential influx in population would substantially increase the demand for recreational facilities and neighborhood parks.
Among a long list of other items, the EIR describes the effects of a proposed zoning change to increase the number of three-story residential buildings and addresses the need for improved air quality strategies.
The Board of Supervisors began working on the Master Plan in 1990 to make I.V. more aesthetically pleasing, provide residents with more housing options, increase open space, construct public facilities and protect environmentally sensitive areas. According to the California Environmental Quality Act’s (CEQA) website, the recently released EIR was then drafted by the Santa Barbara County Planning & Development Dept. (SBCPD) to “identify possible ways to minimize the effects” of the Master Plan,
In 2001, the Board of Supervisors created PAC/GPAC to facilitate community participation in the drafting of the plan, and held an eight-day workshop for residents to suggest improvements to it in 2002.
Jamie Goldstein, project manager for SBCPD and deputy director of the report, said that because the plan is considered a project under control of CEQA, it must meet certain environmental guidelines outlined in the EIR.
I.V. Recreation and Park District Director Bryan Brown said the EIR is a step closer to the Master Plan’s completion, which he said will benefit UCSB students and other I.V. residents.
“From our point of view, it is an opportunity to improve the quality of life of our [residents],” Brown said. “The specific things that impact us are transportation issues and an opportunity to increase the availability of affordable housing.”
Goldstein said he thinks the business district in I.V. has the potential to become a booming business area, like State Street, but a number of changes need to be made.
“Parking is a mess, urban design is a mess,” Goldstein said. “The purpose of the plan is to improve downtown I.V., revise county transportation planning and allow for more housing.”
Other changes proposed by the Master Plan include the construction of public facilities, more efficient transportation between UCSB and downtown Santa Barbara and the improvement of open spaces and parks. According to the EIR, the environmental impact of the changes could affect air quality, fire protection, draining and flooding, and biological, cultural and water resources.
Goldstein said there are a limited number of opportunities for building additional housing on the southern California coast, and I.V. is a prime location.
“When you look at where you want to build additional housing, you want it to be near jobs and near good transportation,” he said. “UCSB is the largest employer in the area, so it needs a lot of housing.”