Dixon Resources Unlimited, in collaboration with the Isla Vista Community Services District, presented a year’s worth of Isla Vista parking data information and proposed solutions to mitigate traffic congestion and parking unavailability on May 15 during its second parking and transportation town hall. 

IVCSD’s mobility and parking town hall revealed a year’s worth of data on Isla Vista parking and potential solutions. Lizzy Rager / Daily Nexus

Dixon Resources Unlimited is a company that supports municipal parking and transportation programs and began working with the IVCSD in 2023. The town hall, hosted at the I.V. Community Center, comes after a multi-year effort to improve the state of mobility and parking in I.V. 

When the I.V. Community Services District (IVCSD) was formed in 2015, it wanted to tackle parking issues, IVCSD general manager Jonathan Abboud said. It is one of the few community services districts with the power to address parking, codified in 2015 by California Assembly Bill 3. 

From 2019 to 2023, IVCSD worked on a mobility study to identify mobility gaps and experiment solutions with a $182,158 grant from the California Air Resources Board (C.A.R.B.), as part of the California Climate Investments initiative. 

In 2023, IVCSD began its parking study with Dixon Resources Unlimited to evaluate the conditions of I.V. parking and potential solutions. IVCSD, UC Santa Barbara and the County of Santa Barbara are each giving $82,000 in funding for the parking study, in total costing $246,000. 

The two projects were combined into the I.V. Parking Study in December 2023 due to their overlap, Abboud said. Julie Dixon, founder and president of Dixon Resource Unlimited and UCSB alum, presented the results of a year-long parking data collection and the mobility study data.

For most cities, the on-street occupancy peaks at 85% occupancy. In I.V., according to a March 12 and 16 report, on-street occupancy averaged at 100%. 

“We’ve heard from community members that say they can’t leave their house after certain hours because they will never find a parking space,” Dixon said.

According to the survey, parking challenges included low compliance, ineffective parking enforcement coverage, heavy parking congestion, low turnover rate of parking spaces, illegal parking at red curbs, blocked driveways and sidewalks, limitations to coastal access and safety concerns. Parking enforcement was a top desire of the participants.

Over the summer, the company captured drone imagery of I.V. to visualize the impact of parking on I.V. streets, as Dixon said the impact is difficult to understand without living in the town.

“This was something that was particularly important because, not only did we need the imagery to be able to show what it really looks like and feels like in Isla Vista, [but] so that when we go outside to get approvals, we also needed to be able to understand the parking inventory for our private property locations,” Dixon said.

To amend noncompliance, Dixon proposed an IVCSD compliance program, enforcing current parking policies, a parking ambassador model, space delineators near driveways and license plate recognition and handhelds. 

Dixon also emphasized discouraging car ownership for residents, a residential permit parking program and to explore shared parking agreements. In the long-term, she proposed tolling with congestion pricing, where a charge is applied to vehicles entering Isla Vista. 

Due to Assembly Bill 413, approximately 157 parking spaces would be lost in I.V in January 2025. The “daylight ordinance” bill, which passed this month, states that vehicles cannot park within 20 feet of an intersection to make sidewalks and pedestrians more visible. 

Dixon addressed mobility needs as missing sidewalks, inadequate street lighting, car blockades, disconnected biking infrastructure, illegal parking, no pick-up or drop-off zones for ridesharing, speed limits across roads in I.V. not matching and limited scooter bike corrals or parking spaces. 

Additionally, the MTD has not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels of service, though ridership has. Bus stops lack accessibility and there is no direct bus access from I.V. to Goleta or Santa Barbara Amtrak stations. 

Mobility initiatives included pedestrian-level lighting, raised and signaled crosswalks, traffic circles, curb bulb-outs, micro-mobility parking, scooter and skateboard parking, bus ramps, bike boxes and sharrows and dedicated protected bike lanes. 

Policy-wise, Dixon proposed no parking along bike lanes, identifying that scooters are to use bike lanes, lowering the speed limit of vehicles by 5 MPH, increasing the length of time for pedestrians to cross at signalized intersections and restricting delivery truck parking at the I.V. Loop and Pardall Road. 

After the presentation, which lasted almost two hours, the nearly 40 attendees were asked to fill out worksheets regarding mobility and parking initiatives in I.V.

Morgan Kellicut, a third-year communication major, said she lives with 13 people on the 6500 block of I.V., where there are only four parking spots in front of her unit. She says if her friends save her a spot on the street and then move onto the driveway, she is guaranteed a place for when she gets home late from work. One of the proposed solutions — a 24 or 72-hour street parking limit — would ruin that arrangement. 

“The potential of getting ticketed, I think, is kind of ridiculous because there’s already so much limitation and [limited] parking as there’s so many people in I.V. already,” Kellicut said.  

Ethan Bertrand, Goleta Union School District trustee and former IVCSD general manager and director, said he’s lived in I.V. for 10 years and has gotten by without a car for nine of those years, either using buses or rideshare. 

“I am all for solutions that can reduce the reliance on cars in Isla Vista,” Bertrand said. “And what Julie pointed out is we are unique in so many of the conditions here that can make this an ideal community to implement some of these creative solutions.”

Ajani Tyehimba, a third-year history of art and architecture major, said he liked the idea of parking permits and a toll for entering I.V. but was against the parking ambassador idea. 

“While I agree there should be more parking enforcement I know sometimes a parking ambassador can bring more adversity and animosity toward the parking ambassador. It’s more convenient to not listen to them because it’s like, ‘Oh, you’re ticketing me, fuck you,’” Tyehimba said.

Gary Smart, the traffic engineer for the Santa Barbara County Public Works — a consultant for the IVCSD parking project — said community feedback will inform the solutions the district goes forward with. 

“We’ve tried this effort about three years ago in Public Works, but it was killed in the Coastal Commission,” Smart said. “We looked at a lot of the same solutions, parking permits, timed parking, parking meters, all this kind of stuff that Isla Vista couldn’t get through 20 years ago. So we’re hoping we’re gonna have more success this time.”

The California Coastal Commission (CCC) — which regulates the use of land and water in coastal zones —  often denies approval for parking permit proposals because it limits beach access, and at that point, they said there was not enough evidence that parking was an issue, Smart said. The difference now is that far more information has been recorded on parking in the county than 20 years ago, he added. 

Abboud said the district consulted the CCC before beginning the study, and were asked to gather 12 months of data from 5 a.m., 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays and weekends. 

Dixon says a final action plan will be ready for approval by the IVCSD by late summer or fall. In the meantime, the IVCSD is hosting parking focus groups in May and June.

A version of this article appeared on p. _ of the May 23, 2024, print edition of the Daily Nexus.

Print

Lizzy Rager
Lizzy Rager (she/her) is the Assistant News Editor for the 2024-25 school year. She can be reached at lizzyrager@dailynexus.com