Hector Sanchez Castaneda
Isla Vista Beat Reporter
Photos by Nicholas Hatsios
The Santa Barbara County Planning and Development agency held a public meeting in Isla Vista Theater on Oct. 5 to discuss the parking situation in IV. Moderated by Supervising Planner David Lackie, IV residents were given an opportunity to speak for three minutes after a presentation by the county outlining the current data they possess.
All speakers unanimously disagreed with the county’s presented statistics and called for a new inspection on the parking situation, along with various possible solutions.
The county’s proposals centered around a 2013 parking survey conducted by Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants for the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a series of coastal access user surveys.
The methodology of the survey consisted of dividing IV into three sections — IV East, IV Central and IV West. Cars were recorded once every two hours between 7 AM and 7 PM over a two-day span. The results found a total of 3,488 parking spaces in IV, with an overall parking occupancy below an 85 percent threshold.
In other words, in any given time, 15 percent of all available parking space is available for anyone to use, according to the 2013 study.
The coastal access surveys also found no large issue in space availability for beach access.
With these findings, the county proposed an annual parking survey while UCSB is in session, with further action depending on the results.
After the 20 minute presentation, the floor was opened for anyone interested in voicing their thoughts. The first to speak was 40-year resident Melissa Hedges.
“There is not enough parking in IV regardless of what the reports say,” Hedges said. “In the last six months, it’s been very difficult to park at our house,”
The rest of the night’s speakers echoed Hedges’s remarks.
“I’m in the central zone [of IV], and I would have to walk blocks if [someone] snakes my parking space in my driveway,” IV resident Pegeen Soutar said. “I think a parking permit program is necessary. I know it’s going to be complicated; I know it’s going to be difficult, but I think it would make a big difference.”
IV Recreation and Park District board member Jacob Lebell mentioned that the construction in the parking lot of the UCSB Santa Catalina dorms had gotten rid of valuable parking space. He also said, along with Soutar, that if UCSB were to lower parking prices, that would ease the parking congestion present in IV.
Around 40 minutes into the meeting, resident Bob Sumner took the stand, holding a copy of the 2013 parking survey conducted by Fehr & Peers.
“I went [outside] and I found my street,” Sumner said, “The capacity according to [the survey] is 59. So I got out […] and counted the spaces twice. And I counted 46, not 59. So I’m maintaining that the capacities on most or all of these streets are inaccurate and they are overestimating.”
Sumner went on and described several other discrepancies between the stated capacity and the number he counted on other streets.
“When I counted these spaces I was very conservative,” Sumner said. “Like we park in Manhattan […] This is how you can rig a 15 percent availability parking figure.”
Resident Florence Klein said that because UCSB paid for the 2013 parking survey, she personally finds a conflict of interest present within the survey.
“You have […] professors and students who are used to being grading and graded [in this room], and they’re giving this [survey] an F,” Klein said. “If the county and university purport to care about this community, they need to step up to the plate with a real bat.”
A Planning Commission hearing is scheduled for Nov. 4 at 9 AM. As of press time, the location has yet to be announced.