The View from Isla Vista

Thank you for the comprehensive review of the issues surrounding UCSB’s current edition of its Long Range Development Plan (UCSBigger, 9/2/10). What’s missing, however, both in your article and the LRDP itself, is the view from Isla Vista, which has for the past 50 years housed at least half of all UCSB students in attendance (and presumably will for the next 50 years). This despite the dire warning

“If there is one thread running through all of our deliberations and recommendations, it is that the University can no longer ignore, if it ever could, the conditions under which the bulk of its students live and spend the greater part of their time while at the University. What goes on in Isla Vista is as central to the University’s life and functions as what goes on in its laboratories and lecture rooms.”. (From the UC Regents’ 1970 Trow Report that presented recommendations for eliminating or ameliorating the causes of unrest in Isla Vista.)

Four years ago, I and several other former elected officials in Isla Vista submitted testimony to the County of Santa Barbara and UCSB that the then-evolving Isla Vista Master Plan should be done in conjunction with the then-evolving LRDP, and vice versa. This commonsense approach was first recommended in a review of UCSB’s 1963 LRDP by the university planner in Berkeley quoted in the Trow Report as saying,

“The seeming lack of concern for ‘what goes on in Isla Vista’ . . . should be corrected at once. . . . As at other campuses, intensive efforts must be made to coordinate physical planning of campus and community.”

The reality is that both plans have proceeded on separate tracks, giving regulators only a partial view of the on-the-ground impacts of either. For example, roughly $30 million of a potential of $78 million available long-term to the Isla Vista Redevelopment Agency has been allocated to build a multi-story parking garage in Isla Vista’s commercial area in order to accommodate overflow parking from UCSB’s Main Campus. Are the environmental impacts of this project included in the LRDP? I haven’t detected them.

Making Isla Vista’s commercial center an auto-free zone would have positive environmental impacts on the South Coast and, long-term, impact the eco-awareness of the thousands of students who migrate through campus and Isla Vista each year. Although such a plan was supported by this same group of former elected Isla Vista officials and several community elections going back to the ‘70s, it was vetoed by the petty business interests that dominated the development of the Isla Vista Master Plan. With the emphasis on bicycle vs. auto traffic in the new LRDP, surely such a plan would have gained currency if the LRDP and Master Plan had been developed together.

Finally, while providing links to several community agencies impacted by the LRDP, your article failed to include the link to the Isla Vista Master Plan.

Carmen Lodise was an activist in Isla Vista, 1972-05.

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