State grant explores green public transportation for Isla Vista

Dec 8, 2020

In keeping with California’s goal towards carbon neutrality, the state is giving Isla Vista money to pay for new, clean transportation in low-income areas.

Isla Vista is the small, densely populated area adjacent to the UC Santa Barbara campus. The population is 15,000 and qualifies as low-income. The UC campus itself is not included in the project.

“We applied for a really focused grant of what we thought was good for us in terms of creating a community mobility plan,” said Jonathan Abboud, general manager of the Isla Vista Community Services District.

Abboud said the district applied for a grant to create better transportation options for residents coming and going from Isla Vista.

“How can we get people to move around in their most frequently-used travel paths in a clean option that’s not a gas-powered car,” he said.

The $182,000 grant will be used for community outreach and assessment.

“Pop-up demonstrations of different mobility options for the community to try, community engagement to get people involved and talking about what their issues and ideas are, and then we’re going to hire a consultant to write the plan,” said Abboud.

The grant is part of a pilot project that falls under the umbrella of California Climate Investments. The state made 11 grants for a total of $19.5 million.

“It’s a state-wide initiative that puts billions of cap and trade dollars to work. These programs support Governor Newsom’s executive order phasing out gasoline powered cars and requiring 100% sales of zero emission cars in 2035,” said Bree Swenson.

Swenson is an air pollution specialist for the California Air Resources Board, which is leading the program.

“The exciting thing about this project is that we’re piloting a community-based approach for transportation projects which hasn’t been done much at the state level,” she said.

Examples of funded projects include electric car sharing, bike paths, community transportation assessments, and more.

“We really liked seeing, in Isla Vista’s application in particular, that they had a really well-thought-out community engagement plan,” said Swenson.

Isla Vista’s grant covers planning and assessment. Additional funds will be needed to put a plan into action.