The following are my comments sent to the county concerning the draft Environmental Impact Report on the draft Isla Vista Master Plan 2003:
TO: Jamie Goldstein, Deputy Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
105 E. Anapamu St., Room 303 • Santa Barbara, CA 93101 • (805) 884-8050 • FAX (805) 568-2016
FR: Malcolm Gault-Williams • email@example.com • (805) 966-3376
DT: 13 July 2006
RE: Comments on the Draft EIR of the Draft Isla Vista Master Plan (2003)
By way of introduction, I am Malcolm Gault-Williams, a former resident of Isla Vista on-and-off between the years 1969-1993 and an Isla Vista historian. In the mid-1980's, I was elected to two governmental bodies: the last Isla Vista Community Council (IVCC) and the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD). Additionally, I was appointed to the last Isla Vista Municipal Advisory Committee (IVMAC) by the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors. While my book "DON'T BANK ON AMERIKA: The History of the Isla Vista Riots of 1970" remains the definitive study of the student movement in Isla Vista and at UCSB, 1968-1971, this study also covers the subject of how Isla Vista was developed during the first half of the 20th Century. I bring these credentials to your attention so that you understand that the following comments and observations I have on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the Draft Isla Vista Master Plan 2003 ("The Plan") come from a person who not only has a long history of involvement in Isla Vista, but is a former elected official from that community, has served the community and its residents for a number of years, and one who has studied the historical causes for the situation Isla Vista finds itself in, today.
That Isla Vista has long needed a redevelopment plan backed up with suitable financial resources has been recognized since at least 1970 (UC Trow Commission Report, 1970). That the County of Santa Barbara is committed to implement a master plan redevelopment for Isla Vista is certainly a positive and long-overdue development for the community as a whole. A reading of The Plan shows that much staff time has been devoted to this end. In short, an Isla Vista Master Plan meeting the needs and desires of its residents is a great opportunity for Isla Vista.
This opportunity being recognized, however, I am compelled to draw your attention to the fact that both The Plan and its DEIR are based on two fundamentally flawed assumptions. These are: 1) That Isla Vista needs more housing; and 2) That increased vehicular parking would
benefit the community.
Isla Vista comprises Santa Barbara County's most densely populated community. It is probably the most densely populated community north of Los Angeles and south of San Francisco. How would an increase in its population benefit this area that is already impacted by overcrowding? How is it to be justified?
Any substantive increase in the level of additional housing in Isla Vista must certainly be recognized as a renewed effort on the part of the University of California to house more of its student population in I.V. It was precisely this intent that caused Isla Vista's overcrowding in the first place, in the 1960's. Additional housing in Isla Vista would be a boon for UCSB, enabling it to increase enrollments. So, the question must be asked: who is to benefit from increased housing in Isla Vista? It's residents or the University of California?
It is not additional housing that is needed in Isla Vista, it is improved housing. Toward that end, a studied Project Alternative similar to the DEIR's Alternative 6 should be considered, where incentives are given existing property owners to upgrade their buildings, but without
the sizeable increase in population densities outlined in the DEIR and its other proposed alternatives (excepting Alternative 1 "No Plan").
To my knowledge, there has never been a majority expression on the part of Isla Vistans for more parking in Isla Vista. In fact, the opposite has been true. Community leaders representing their constituencies have consistently moved ahead to find more open space, enhance that open space, and encourage the use of bicycles over motorized vehicles. Much of the recent problems with parking have been caused by students and staff at the University who choose to park for free in Isla Vista rather than pay for parking at UCSB. Instead of listening to these voices addressing a basically University parking problem, the county needs to consider the historical positions the community has taken toward vehicular use in Isla Vista over the course of the past 36 years.
To this end, a project Alternative built around AUTO-REDUCTION should be included in the DEIR on the 2003 Isla Vista Master Plan.
IN SUMMARY/FORMAL REQUESTS:
1) I formally request that a Project Alternative based on HOUSING & BUILDING INCENTIVES WITHOUT INCREASES TO LOCAL POPULATION be included in the DEIR of the 2003 Draft Isla Vista Master Plan.
2) I formally request that a project Alternative built around AUTO-REDUCTION be included in the DEIR on the 2003 Draft Isla Vista Master Plan.