Isla Vista Talks Redevelopment

Some Suggest Revisiting Master Plan at Project Area Committee Meeting

Even in a county marked by distinct ideological differences between political entities, Isla Vista, simultaneously a laid back beach town and a hotbed of social and population-density problems, has always stood out. The process of coming up with a community plan that meets the needs of the student population, its permanent residents, and UCSB has been a lengthy one.

The I.V. Master Plan has been through a long, long process,” said Craig Geier, who has owned a plumbing business on Pardall Road for nearly 40 years and is a member of the I.V. business association. “And when a new group of students comes in, we have to re-educate a whole new group of people.”

Indeed, on Tuesday, October 21, when the Project Area Committee (PAC) met to discuss some of the development proposals that are being kicked around among community activists, the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District, and the Santa Barbara County Redevelopment Agency, some at the well-attended meeting suggested the community plan be reopened for new input to be added.

According to Geier, the two major issues now are parking and the community center. Some students involved in the public discussions have revealed their anxiety over some of the proposed elements of the final redevelopment project, which could include a subterranean parking structure and some new buildings.

A related matter is Measure D, placed on the upcoming November ballot to allow Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District (IVRPD) to sell some of its land in order to finance a new community center and other projects. It seems to have been a difficult proposal for community leaders to define in terms that everyone can understand. Essentially, it involves land swaps and sales. Thanks to IVRPD’s effort to protect itself, by ordinance, against irresponsible loss of real estate that could never be recovered, a two-thirds majority is needed for the measure-dubbed “Vitamin D” by some-to pass, and even then it would be subject to an extensive public review process. Having recently had money injected for refurbishment by I.V. landowner Ed St. George, the current community center will still need replacement in the near future to meet current earthquake safety standards.

Jamie Goldstein, the outgoing head of the Redevelopment Agency (RDA), has been largely responsible for a lot of the administrative work involved in the RDA-IVRPD negotiations, so there is some concern about forward progress while a replacement agency director is selected. Furthermore, 3rd District leadership will change this winter, when either Doreen Farr or Steve Pappas succeeds Brooks Firestone as the county’s 3rd District supervisor.

Goldstein said that amidst much discussion, the only action taken at what was his last community meeting in Isla Vista-he recently accepted a similar job in Capitola-was to pass two resolutions, one thanking Brooks Firestone for his service on the project, and one thanking Goldstein. “Overall, it was a well-attended meeting, and there was a higher level of approval and enthusiasm for the project” than previously, Goldstein said.

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