After nearly a decade of planning, the realization of the Isla Vista Master Plan is fully underway – much to the chagrin of bikers, business owners and residents alike.
The renovation of Pardall Road — the first major project under the Master Plan — was scheduled for completion in December, however residents will have to wait another month for the jack hammering to stop. According to the Santa Barbara County Redevelopment Agency’s Jeff Lindgren, workers have already completed renovation on the two westernmost blocks, and construction on the block closest to campus is expected to extend into March.
Meanwhile, the widening of El Collegio Road — and the ensuing traffic jams — will continue until July, Lindberg said. When finished, the road will have two lanes of traffic in each direction, three new MTD bus stops, a landscaped median and bike lanes.
The renovation of Pardall Road has long been a focal point of the Master Plan. Technically considered Isla Vista’s “downtown,” Pardall Road has the highest concentration of businesses and eateries in I.V.
Construction on the street’s final section will completely shut down the intersection of Embarcadero Del Norte, and close Pardall Road to vehicles over the next several weeks. However, bikers and pedestrians will still have access to the sidewalks.
Residents on Pardall Road will not be able to access their homes by vehicle for the duration of the construction, and received notices last week urging them to remove their cars from the street. Parking permits for the university’s parking garage No. 22, located on the other side of the Pardall tunnel, are available for the residents to minimize the inconvenience.
If the construction is finished in March, the renovation of Pardall Road will have been a six-month affair, though some of the improvements have been noticeable for months.
“As you probably noticed the sidewalks are larger,” Lindgren said. “The idea is to establish outdoor cafes along Pardall Road. There is a process for business owners to go through the county and get a permit — they sign an agreement and pay a fee to the county to lease the space.”
Should business owners choose to expand their business to the newly created promenade area, the fee will go to community projects such as street maintenance and trash clean up. The guidelines for serving alcohol will not change, although restaurant owners will be required to erect a barrier around their sidewalk property.
In addition to widening the sidewalks, the water and sewage systems along Pardall Road and the Embarcadero Loop are being updated. The new drainage system is intended to reduce flooding along the street.
The new “downtown” area will also include streetlights, additional bike parking, and trees all intended to revitalize the Pardall streetscape.
Lindgren has proposed the idea of a grand opening event coinciding with the start of spring quarter.
The design of Pardall Road is the result of local input from the ReVision Isla Vista Design Competition of 2000, the kick-off event of the IVMP planning process, which offered community members and business owners the opportunity [o participate in the renovation.
The other visible aspect of the Isla Vista Master Plan is the construction along El Colegio. The first phase of the two-part construction plan stretches from Campus West Gate to Camino Del Sur and includes work along Los Carneros Road. According to Lindgren, phase one is approximately 50 percent complete and expected to be finished in July.
When completed, this first section of the road will include three new MTD bus stops, a landscape median and bike lanes.
“There will be a short lag between the two phases — a break between when phase one ends and when phase two begins,” Lindgren said at a planning meeting last week.
Phase two, which targets the stretch of El Colegio from Los Carneros Road to Camino Corto — toward the Santa Catalina dorms — will involve the addition of two lanes as well as bike lanes to improve safety for students traipsing back and forth to the off-campus dorms.
The Isla Vista Master Plan began as a joint venture by the Isla Vista Project Area Committee and the General Plan Advisory Committee, the University, and Isla Vista Recreation and Parks Department to address infrastructure, traffic and zoning problems in I.V. From 2000-2007 residents, business owners and county officials worked to devise a set of goals and regulations to guide the future appearance of Isla Vista.
The plan was put before the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and approved on August 21, 2007. To date, construction along Pardall Road and El Colegio are the only visible signs of progress under the Master Plan, although future projects include work on other areas of Isla Vista, including the parks and recreational spaces.