County planners had their cake and ate it too last night, as the Project Area Committee and the General Plan Advisory Committee met to discuss the Master Plan before digging into an Isla Vista-shaped pastry.
At the meeting, the PAC/GPAC passed a resolution to support implementing the I.V. Master Plan, which has taken more than 40 committee meetings to finalize. Now the plan will be sent to the County Planning Commission before it is passed to the County Board of Supervisors, who should see the proposal this summer. Once the supervisors adopt the plan, work to implement it can begin.
The Master Plan outlines a number of projects, some of which will make I.V. safer, like installing underground utilities and sidewalk street lighting. Other projects, meanwhile, might not be as beneficial, like increasing the town’s population density to a potential 1,447 additional housing units.
While Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone said it was important for the Master Plan to be considered as a set of flexible guidelines, and not set in stone, PAC/GPAC members said they agreed on the “major thrust of the plan.”
“Like most things we do in government, the Master Plan is not perfect,” Firestone said.
GPAC Chair Craig Geyer said the Master Plan calls for rezoning Isla Vista for new building projects that will allow higher population density and more low-income housing. For every four new units built, 25 percent must be low-income housing.
I.V. Tenants Union representative on the PAC, Joel Rodriguez-Flores, said he disagrees with the proposed plan to increase low-income housing with funds coming solely from I.V. Rodriguez-Flores, a fourth-year women’s studies major, said other county funds should be provided to help support low-income residents.
Santa Barbara City College Student Senate Vice President of External Affairs Keith Russell said he is concerned with aspects of the Master Plan. Russell said the creation of more housing might only worsen traffic, parking, crime and pollution problems in Isla Vista.
All of the speakers at the meeting, including the students present, discussed a lack of student initiative and involvement in the process to improve I.V. Jamie Goldstein, the deputy director of the Redevelopment Agency, said the short-term residency of most students is the largest factor affecting long-term student involvement with the issue.
Aside from the Master Plan, the PAC/GPAC discussed more possible improvement plans targeted toward the downtown area of Isla Vista.
Goldstein said it is important for the PAC/GPAC to bring parking meters to the commercial district of Downtown I.V.
“Free parking has a detrimental effect on communities,” Goldstein said. “Metered parking generates dollars to build more parking, plant street trees and build more sidewalks.”
The committee considered alternatives to parking meters, including increasing the hours of limited parking around businesses, to keep consumers moving in and out of stores throughout the day. Geyer tabled the discussion for a late meeting and encouraged members of the board to consider and formulate alternative plans to meters.