The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Isla Vista’s fourth Five-Year Implementation Plan yesterday during their weekly meeting.
The agenda prioritizes projects in the I.V. Master Plan — the region’s long-term beautification project — in five-year increments to renovate local businesses, create more affordable housing, improve streets and protect the local environment. The Santa Barbara County Redevelopment Agency is responsible for funding and managing the area’s development plans.
Associated Students External Vice President of Local Affairs Cori Lantz, a fourth-year political science major, said representatives from A.S. attended the meeting to encourage the Board’s vote in favor of the agenda.
“By enforcing this implementation plan, they’re enforcing what residents express that they need,” Lantz said. “After six months of interactive community discussions during the Project Area Committee meetings and drafting various versions of the plan, the RDA developed this comprehensive version that directly represents the vision of the community.”
The outline includes the EVPLA’s recommended Isla Vista street and sidewalk lighting improvements. Lantz said the association received numerous complaints regarding sexual harassment and other assaults due to inadequate visibility within the area.
“Lighting has been a consistent issue mentioned by students for the last three years,” Lantz said. “The EVPLA office has investigated the lack of lighting in Isla Vista and developed a comprehensive lighting analysis plan. This year, we have voiced these concerns to various county departments, asking them to prioritize the issue. Safety needs to be a priority.”
Additionally, EVPLA’s I.V. Liaison Megan Shumate, a second-year psychology major, said the RDA is collaborating with the Santa Barbara Housing and Community Development Dept. on several development plans.
“The five projects will produce 24 units of affordable housing by 2014,” Shumate said.
Shumate said the development offers viable living arrangements for the diverse community.
“It is important, especially in a community like I.V. with so many temporary residents and people with diverse socio-economic backgrounds, to have affordable housing available,” Shumate said. “The Five-Year Implementation Plan addresses the needs for this type of housing in I.V. and I’m really happy with how the plan addresses these needs.”
Lantz said the plan will also assist business owners renovate their storefronts.
“The RDA will provide matching grants designated towards façade improvements,” Lantz said. “Previous projects that have been extremely successful include the I.V. Food Co-Op, Pasta House and Sam’s To Go.”
Although the board approved the updated five-year plan, the state’s redevelopment agencies may no longer receive funding for community development projects due to budget cuts in Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2011-12 state budget. Lantz said the agency is one of the few organizations that direct taxpayers’ money back into the community.
“We rarely see our tax dollars coming directly back into Isla Vista because it tends to be low on the county-wide list of priorities,” Lantz said. “The RDA is one of the only county agencies where we actually see our taxes making physical and immediate improvements. I.V. residents have a say in what the RDA takes on. The staff is extremely attentive and responsive to mentioned concerns.”