District Director for the Office of Assemblymember Das Williams Darcel Elliot prompts Isla Vista stakeholders and other meeting attendees to question which members of the community should have access to parking in IV. Nick Hatsios/The Bottom Line

Hector Sanchez Castaneda
Isla Vista Beat Reporter

Isla Vista stakeholders resumed their discussion on the issue of parking on Tues., Jan. 19 by deciding what groups of people would receive priority parking spaces under the jurisdiction of a Community Services District (CSD).

“Who do we really want to make sure has parking in IV, and who do we want to limit parking for?” Darcel Elliott, district director of the Office of Assemblymember Das Williams, asked the attendees.

The rest of the meeting focused on labeling community members into groups and sorting them out into one of the two categories presented by Elliott.

Under CSD jurisdiction, attendees decided that IV west end single family residents, students living in IV, low income residents, coastal access visitors, local business patrons, residents’ visitors, the disabled and technician workers should receive priority parking, while on-campus students, commuting students, University of California, Santa Barbara staff and faculty and visiting party goers should have restrictions imposed on them.

Some category sortings proved to be more contentious than others.

The issue of UCSB restricting first year students from bringing cars in order to alleviate vehicle congestion was brought up by Executive Director of Isla Vista Youths Project LuAnn Miller. Miller gave an example of how both her sons learned to deal without a car, because of the heavy restrictions and high expenses that the University of California, Los Angeles imposes on its students. The argument, however, was quickly rebutted.

“When we keep bringing up UCSB, I don’t really know how that’s going to work,” Jay Freeman, UCSB alumnus and IV Downtown Business Association vice president, said. “Someone really has to describe the mechanism that would be more stringent somehow to what they currently have.”

UCSB Assistant Vice Chancellor George Thurlow echoed Freeman’s response, and emphasized that proper education surrounding parking policies would function as a better deterrent for students who are considering bringing their cars.

“The marketplace … and demographics are working in such a way that we see fewer and fewer freshmen bringing cars to campus, and that’s based on permits that we sell,” Thurlow said. “I think the key here is education; I don’t think it’s enforcement … How are we going to enforce? How intrusive are we going [to be]?”

General Manager of the IV Recreation and Parks District Rodney Gould brought forth the idea of expanding Zipcar’s presence on campus with a partnership of some kind, but then pricing of the service was raised as a concern.

“Who do we really want to make sure has parking in IV, and who do we want to limit parking for?” Darcel Elliott, district Director of the Office of Assemblymember Das Williams, asked the attendees.

A proposal to raise ticket prices in order to disincentivize students from long-term parking was presented, but third year history of public policy major and External Vice President of Local Affairs Paola Dela Cruz objected.

“I don’t necessarily agree with that,” Dela Cruz said. “One is because of the education part of it. I have sorority sisters who went abroad during fall quarter and they left their cars here and their cars were towed, and they couldn’t do anything about that … and by the time they came back they had a high amount of money that they owed. And it’s because of the lack of education.”

At the end, however, no attendee opposed having the CSD impose parking restrictions on UCSB students living on campus.

When UCSB staff and faculty were mentioned, it seemed they would be put on the restricted list, but IV Community Advisor for Associated Students Diana Collins Puente had some reservations.

“There are some of us that work in IV,” Collins Puente said. “So would that [label] be more about employees that work in IV versus people that work on campus?”

A new label IV employees emerged after deliberation, and was put on the side with priority access to parking. Elliott pointed out that the residential labels override other labels. In other words, if you are a student living on any university-owned property with a job in IV, parking restrictions would still apply to you.

It was also specified that the major concern is restricting parking during the night, so that residents are not forced to park too far away from their homes.

“It’s predominantly a safety issue,” Elliott said. “If you live in IV but have to park a mile away, and you’re walking, a lot of times in some dark areas [or] places with no sidewalks […] to get home, when you should just have parking available to you near your home.”

The label of service technicians and suppliers refers to cable company cars or supply trucks. A complaint in the meeting was that these vehicles usually park anywhere in the street, blocking off transit, so some wanted parking spaces to be zoned out exclusively for them. The question that arose was how many of these parking zones would be created, and where would they be positioned. No conclusion was reached.

The debate of residency verification with driver’s license checks that came up in the last parking meeting made a second appearance. Talking points included the bureaucratic burden that would result in changing the residence on the license. Once again, no conclusion was agreed upon.

“I don’t think we’re going to … solve this tonight,” Elliott said. “We’re not done talking about parking … [but] I have faith in this group that we will figure this out.”

At the end of the meeting, David Lackey, supervising planner for the county’s Planning and Development department offered some insight as to the supply and demand of parking in IV, using as a reference a study by Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants conducted in 2013. According to the study, there are only 3,488 parking spaces in IV.

“I don’t think we’re going to … solve this tonight,” Elliott said. “We’re not done talking about parking … [but] I have faith in this group that we will figure this out.”

“Not everybody is going to be able to get a parking space,” Lackey said. “A lot of what you guys have been talking about is trying to think about how best to improve the conditions, [but] no one solution is going to solve it. A lot of it is looking at changes in social behavior and things that at least you can try to influence.”

The next meeting will focus on how the findings of these meetings should be presented to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) the agency that will ultimately decide which CSD powers are present on the November ballot, as well as what the tax rate for residents would be.

Hector is from Ensenada, Mexico, and is currently a sophomore majoring in English. After beginning as a staff writer his first year, Hector became Isla Vista Beat reporter. If he isn't reading a book or re-watching episodes of Breaking Bad, he's probably writing about Isla Vista.