Following protests from community members, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors announced that the five palm trees facing Isla Vista’s Freebird’s World Burrito will remain in place.

The palm trees were originally scheduled for removal after the Board approved the I.V. Master Plan last August. The plan, developed over the past six years, focuses on several redevelopment projects in I.V. such as refurbished parks, sidewalks, bike paths and storefronts. Freebirds’ owner Mark Orfalea said he was glad the trees will stay, but that he would like to see the decision applied to all palms in I.V.

“I think it’s a mistake,” Orfalea said. “I think the tress are majestic and beautiful. They’re awesome trees. They’ve been in town for 40+ years. They’re iconic of what’s best about the Isla Vista community and it would be very unfortunate if they were taken down.”

I.V. Project Area Committee member Liz Buda said the destruction of local palms would serve as an affront to I.V.’s beachside image.

“They were planning on uprooting the trees on Pardall [Road] and some of the trees on Embarcadero Del Mar and Embarcadero Del Norte,” Buda said. “The original plan was to trash the trees. I would view all the palm trees in I.V. as an icon of our beach community.”

While several meetings concerning the redevelopment project were held, Buda, a third-year film studies major, said she believed the meetings were held at inconvenient times for students.

“They were discussing a lot of the renovation over Spring Break and Finals Week,” Buda said. “They say these meetings are accessible, but when they aren’t advertised and are at inconvenient times, they really aren’t accessible.”

Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone said that meeting times were decided arbitrarily upon availability and that the governing board has no motivation to shut out student voices.

“An inference that the county is trying to impose something on Isla Vista is absolutely not true,” Firestone said. “What would our motivation be to do that? We try to respond to the community. We have no interest in not doing so.”

Firestone said that it was difficult to cater to students’ individual interests since they typically leave the area after four years. Firestone said the Master Plan was developed for years and the push for an overhaul in the design comes at the eve of the project’s fruition.

“It’s what we call a late hit,” Firestone said. “We’ve been having hearings on Pardall for years, literally. Students have been participating in the planning for years and liked the idea of uniform trees on Pardall.”

Regarding the belatedness of the protest, Orfalea said the issue should have been raised sooner, but that it was not too late to redesign what he called a potentially ineffective and overly expensive part of I.V.’s Master Plan.

“We’re making a decision here that’s going to affect the community long after Brooks [Firestone] and I are gone, and I want to make sure we’re making the right choice right now,” Orfalea said. “Yes, it would’ve been ideal if we came up with suggestions six months or a year ago, but we’re talking about decisions that will last for decades.”

Orfalea also said he was satisfied with the greater part of the Master Plan’s changes, but said that the palm tree issue is one crucial piece that needs attention.

“There are a lot of good things about the Master Plan,” Orfalea said. “I think the county is doing a great job helping I.V. progress, but there are elements that need attention and this is one that needs more work.”

Firestone said that he accepted Orfalea’s desire for an iconographical palm-lined street corner, but that the lack of uniformity will likely present its own problems.

“I told Mark [Orfalea] someday he’s going to walk down the street looking at the line of trees and run smack into his palm trees,” Firestone said.