The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to retain ownership of three Isla Vista properties — a medical clinic, vacant church, and solar-powered parking lot along Embarcadero Del Mar — formerly owned by the county’s Redevelopment Agency (RDA). The vote was welcome news for clinic representatives and various community members who have long fought to keep the buildings for public use.
The Isla Vista Neighborhood Clinic is operated by Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC), which serves a total of 17,000 area low-income patients. SBNC board member Brian Knowles said he was happy with the county’s decision to hold onto the clinic building. He pointed out the backwardness if the I.V. Clinic had to close “at a time when the Affordable Care Act promises to improve the health of the underprivileged.”
SBNC announced serious financial troubles in May, but has since accepted generous donations to keep its doors open. Knowles said he is hopeful about the future of all four clinics that SBNC operates — one on Santa Barbara’s west side, two on its east side, and one in I.V. — because they expect to see an increased demand of insured patients as underprivileged people gain access to national health coverage.
Tuesday’s vote was not the end of the road for the properties, though, as the county’s long-range management plan is on its way to the RDA Oversight Board and then to the state on October 26 for a final decision on jurisdiction.