The Isla Vista Community Services District held a virtual Transportation Town Hall on Nov. 17 to discuss Isla Vistans’ “transportation and mobility experiences, needs and suggestions,” according to a press release. 

The community services district’s initiative is funded by the Sustainable Transportation Equity Project (S.T.E.P.) Grant that the district received in 2020. 

The S.T.E.P. Grant is an allocation of $182,158 from the California Air Resources Board to establish an equity-based community mobility plan in conjunction with California Climate Investments — a program that works to improve public health and the environment.  

According to the district’s website, the Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) will use the money received to “empower Isla Vista residents to identify gaps in the mobility ecosystem, experiment with solutions and develop a list of priority projects that will increase access to an equitable, affordable, sustainable and safe multimodal transportation system.”

Spencer Brandt, IVCSD president and director, kicked off the meeting by explaining how improvements in transportation could help the environment, ensure safety and mobility access. 

“A 2018 report found that over the last decade, greenhouse gas emissions are increasing in Santa Barbara County and the largest increases are in the transportation sector,” Brandt said. “As if there wasn’t already enough urgency for governments to act on climate change, I think this really highlights the need for local governments to be creating improvements to transportation that increase clean options.”

IVCSD General Manager Jonathan Abboud said that the project’s mission is to provide an “equitable Isla Vista where residents of all ages and abilities are able to move to and from the community safely and efficiently.” 

The board plans to release a survey in December to gather community input that will guide the usage and allocation of the S.T.E.P. Grant money.

“There will be a number of ways that you can get involved in this project. Most importantly, this is a community driven process, and the outcomes will be shaped by your input,” said Sydney Casler, IVCSD community engagement director. “We will be launching a needs assessment survey next month. This is where you can share your transportation and mobility needs or concerns, experiences you have and ideas for the future of mobility in Isla Vista.”

The town hall is the first of three aimed at educating and involving citizens in local transportation initiatives, according to Abboud. He added that the board plans to visible and gather input from Isla Vista residents 

IVCSD currently hopes to receive 4,000 responses to the online survey about citizens’ transportation needs. 

Abboud added that the board plans to involve the community further by “getting into some pop-ups and demonstration projects where we can start taking some of the ideas and put them into practice in a real way so that [community members] can exchange [ideas].”

About 30 minutes into the town hall meeting, community members began sharing their own experiences with transportation in Isla Vista, as well as their own desired implementations and suggestions.

“I love to see some bike boulevards for the kids and families who attend the Isla Vista [Elementary] School. I think that demographic is not very comfortable walking and biking to school,” one participant said.

In approximately a year, the board plans to complete its proposal for improving transportation in Isla Vista and present it to the community for input. Community outreach will continue until March 2023.