As the Isla Vista Master Plan gets under way, a group of UCSB students has launched a grassroots effort to fight I.V.’s planned cosmetic surgery.
By initiating a series of weekly meetings, the group aims to educate students and community members on the nuances and stipulations of the Master Plan. The students, who meet Fridays at 5 p.m. in the Biko Co-op garage, also said they hope to reverse the progress already set in motion.
The Isla Vista Master Plan — a redevelopment project designed to combat the structural and aesthetic complications of I.V. — has been in the works for almost 10 years but was only approved by the County Board of Supervisors in August of 2007. Renovations include increased street lighting and bike parking, as well as updated water and sewage systems, sidewalk widening and the planting of 70 new trees along Pardall Road.
Liz Buda, a fourth-year film studies major and a co-organizer of the meetings, said that although I.V. can admittedly use renovations, the IVMP would destroy the cultural integrity of the town.
“I.V. has such a unique culture,” Buda said. “There are problems in I.V. that need to be addressed, but that doesn’t mean we have to overhaul what our town is about. It should be our right to say what we want and make that happen.”
Buda said that she ironically became opposed to the vision while working in close proximity to those who drafted and promoted it.
“I’ve been working on the Master Plan for the past year as the Associated Student representative,” Buda said. “Through that, I realized the Master Plan wasn’t representative of the people who live in I.V.”
Josh Cataldo, a fourth-year electrical engineering major and co-organizer of the group meetings, said he opposes the facelift due to the adverse economic effects he said the plan would impose on residents.
“Turning I.V. into a thriving commercial area and upgrading the looks and storefronts of I.V. doesn’t help the majority of residents living there, especially the students and Latino families,” Cataldo said. “It may bring more people into I.V. just to shop, but it will raise rent because of new access to stores that may push out low-income families who live in I.V. and poorer students who go to Santa Barbara.”
In addition, Cataldo said the ulterior motives of Isla Vista landowners will perpetuate a cycle of corruption within the Redevelopment Agency, the county arm responsible for the plan.
“I see the flow of money going from Santa Barbara taxpayers to the Redevelopment Agency and back into the pockets of landowners — a few of whom were directly involved in the shaping of the Master Plan,” Cataldo said.
With construction on Pardall already under way, Buda said there has never been a more opportune time for UCSB students to become enlightened and take action.
“We especially want UCSB students to be informed,” Buda said. “[The IVMP] has been going on for years but no one knows about it. The Redevelopment Agency has not been successful in making sure that students know about the plan and there has been little oversight with the money that they spent. With the construction just starting, the time to act is now.”