The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission held a meeting Wednesday morning to review recommendations from the Planning and Development staff concerning parking in Isla Vista.
The Planning and Development staff conducted a survey to examine parking patterns and concluded there is a 15% increase in parking spaces in I.V. because fewer student residents are bringing their vehicles. Students and long-term residents attended the meeting to give input during public comment, all of whom rebutted the survey results. The event ended with the Commission promising to hold another meeting addressing the issue of parking in I.V. to better incorporate the community and for staff to develop a new survey.
Planning and Development staff member David Lackey said the survey found 34 new parking spots due to elimination of designated red curb areas, new measurements, car share programs and overall reduced total vehicles.
“It’s a combination of factors that concluded that the overall parking spaces that were available were actually increasing as the capacity has remained the same,” Lackey said.
Second District SB County Planning Commissioner Cecilia Brown said there has been an increase in student population at UCSB and in I.V. since 2004.
“But from what I understand, there has been a decrease in vehicles in that community,” Brown said. “Is that a fair statement?”
Lackey said in terms of a “general trend,” certain demographics such as younger populations are not bringing single personal vehicles in the community.
“That’s one of the many factors that were identified in the parking survey in 2013,” Lackey said.
Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) Associated Students (A.S.) representative Ethan Bertrand said overcrowding I.V. is unsafe and the community’s interests need to be taken into account when looking at I.V.’s future regarding parking.
“There has been various outreach to the community, but I would say those have been ineffective and I would say we [the community] haven’t been provided with a chance to provide input and consideration to this,” Bertrand said.
I.V. Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) Chair Pegeen Soutar said IVRPD requests the I.V. Master Plan process be postponed and sent back to the community for review. Soutar also asked that IVRPD to be the lead agency to gather input from the community on all matters related to recreation and parks.
“Since the Master Plan was first created, we find it to be inconsistent with the active community plan for our parks,” Soutar said. “It is very hard to find parking in Isla Vista at all. As far as your study, we cannot find parking at all. I’m not sure where that 15 percent paring is at folks, but we’re not finding it.”
According to Soutar, it is very difficult to find coastal access parking in I.V., especially when people come from out of town for recreational activities.
“We have excellent surf spots out there,” Soutar said. “And trust me, there are hundreds of people that when the surf is going, they want to come into town and that is a huge problem.”
Long-term resident Sue Dickson said she wants amendments for the Master Plan to be postponed because the plan no longer accurately reflects community needs and does not address the density, parking and development issues in the current drought.
“The Master Plan itself is flawed and out of date,” Dickson said. “A lot of change has taken place in Isla Vista since it has been originally written. Much of the report is no longer relevant. I did not receive any outreach.”
Long-term resident Susan Wickham said she was not notified regarding meetings about the I.V. Master Plan.
“You need to bring the community back into the conversation and let us have an opportunity to acknowledge the changes and the whole plan as it goes through the process,” Wickham said. “I believe the survey needs to be redone.”
Long-term resident Maia said I.V. residents are double parking, parking nose to tail with no space in between, parking on dirt lots and in other people’s lots and that land owners are charging for parking.
“Now it is summer and students are gone mostly. I’ve seen the fewest parking spaces in any of the summers,” Maia said. “There’s no places for visitors to go. This is our personal experience and surveys don’t necessarily reflect that. Why would landlords be charging for parking when there’s lot of spaces?”
I.V. Project Committee Chair Teddy Warfield said it is not beneficial for those who are not residents of I.V. to create plans for the community.
“I have to mention the arrogant and high-handed services your county staff has provided for the Isla Vista Master Plan Project and this process,” Warfield said. “I never received any notice that this process was going on. Your staff has served us poorly in this process.”
UCSB A.S. External Vice President of Local Affairs Paola DeLa Cruz said the survey is incorrect; there is no parking in I.V. and apartment complexes charge up to $300 for parking spaces, a fee many students cannot afford.
“The information that you have in front of you is inaccurate and definitely does not address safety in Isla Vista,” DeLa Cruz said.
First District SB County Commissioner C. Michael Cooney said community expectations are not being met, particularly concerns of the student body and long-term residents of I.V.
“As an overall observation, I didn’t hear any support for our actions today,” Cooney said. “We have to emphasize to the Board of Supervisors that we need to look at the overall Master Plan through the eyes of the current Isla Vista, concerned Isla Vista population.”
Third District SB County Commissioner Joan Hartmann said there needs to be more outreach in I.V. and increased community input to make a “reasonable” decision regarding parking.
“I think we must ensure that people know what is happening and we need to do a better job. I’d like some assurances,” Hartmann said. “In terms of the parking, what we see here in the survey results is that there is enough parking but according to the community, that is not the case.”