The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission public hearing slated for today has been postponed, putting off the review of the Isla Vista Master Plan and its Environmental Impact Report until next year.

The Master Plan, a draft of which was adopted by the I.V. Project Area Committee and General Plan Advisory Committee in 2003, outlines zoning and land use changes, in addition to projects and programs designed to improve the quality of life in and visual aesthetic of I.V.

Some projects are already being pursued by the Redevelopment Agency, which has a budget of roughly $2 million dollars for the 2006-07 fiscal year. Of that money, for example, $250,000 has been allocated to the construction of new MTD bus stop shelters and sidewalks, like those recently constructed on the 6500 block of Sabado Tarde Road.

Part of the Master Plan includes strategies to improve parking in I.V., such as with a permit program. The California Coastal Commission rejected just such a plan on Nov. 15, citing numerous problems with the proposed permit system and asking county and UCSB officials to submit another option.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Impact Report, which was released on May 10 of last year, outlines the potentially positive and negative effects that come with the Master Plan. The county has hosted several meetings since the EIR was released last spring to allow community input.

One hot button issue that has many I.V. residents, land owners and workers questioning the document is one of the options in the Master Plan that could increase the number of residents in I.V. by more than 4,000, with the addition of 1,447 new housing units.

Last May, the Associated Students Legislative Council voted to support an alternative plan that would allow additional housing for 904 new residents. This alternative allows for changes to the zoning laws to allow three-story buildings on Pardall Road.

UCSB’s enrollment is currently capped at 20,000 students, but last year, Gene Lucas, the executive vice chancellor, said UCSB could grow to around 25,000 students in the next 25 years. An influx of students would require more housing, not only on campus but also in I.V.

– Staff Report