A measure slated to appear on the upcoming November ballot has some locals up in arms about the possible destruction of Isla Vista’s open spaces.
Measure D – the only item specific to I.V. that will appear on the ballot – is part of a plan by the I.V. Recreation and Park District to build subterranean parking facilities under People’s and Perfect parks. The measure would also allow IVRPD to sell off parklands to raise money for community projects.
Ken Warfield, director on the IVRPD Board, said that the Recreation and Park District wants the county to purchase various IVRPD-owned properties on the Embarcadero Loop – including St. Athanasius Church, the I.V. Neighborhood Clinic and current IVRPD Office – and put the funds toward rebuilding the teen center and making other improvements around I.V.
“When an area gets deficient like some of these properties around Isla Vista, you have the opportunity to reorganize,” Warfield said. “[By selling the properties], we would have a lot of money to repair basic infrastructure and make the downtown more appealing to big businesses.”
Warfield said the additional parking is necessary to accommodate the constant growth in I.V. and would not detract from the town’s aesthetics.
“We would like it to be underground, underneath the park,” Warfield said. “The [vehicular] entrance to the garage would be on Trigo [Road], so you wouldn’t even notice it, and it would reduce traffic in the area. We would be gaining over half an acre of open space – it would be the most important park in the busiest part of town.”
Dorothy Dent, a candidate running in the November election for a seat on the IVRPD Board of Directors, is an opponent of the plan, and says it would harm I.V. on the whole. Dent rejects IVRPD’s claim that the plan would add more open space to I.V.
“They are saying that [the plan] is going to add 0.63 acres, which is little farfetched,” she said. “It’s impractical and infeasible. The best thing would be to pursue the properties of the church and the clinic and take over that space ourselves. No municipalities should ever be forced to divest themselves of public spaces.”
Martin Henderson, a local political activist who said he strongly opposes IVRPD’s plans, claimed that the board of directors purposefully placed hearings regarding the plan in the weeks following graduation last June, in an attempt to limit student involvement.
Henderson said that four days after graduation, the board held a meeting to discuss the measure. Five days after that – the minimum amount of notice the board is required to give the public before they convene – the board held a “special” meeting in which they voted on and approved placing the measure on the ballot.
“The I.V. community was completely taken out of the process. Democracy took a detour,” Henderson said.
Warfield rejected the claim that there was any intent to exclude students from the discussion. He said the board was forced to act quickly to ensure that the measure would be placed on the November ballot.
“Having a special meeting because you have a deadline is no big deal, particularly because this is ultimately going to the public, being put on the ballot for the people to decide,” Warfield said. “Henderson is full of bull. He is not arguing from a sane perspective.”