Approximately 30 people attended the Isla Vista Town Hall Meeting last night, where sandwiches were served up along with candid conversation about renting and living in I.V.
The I.V. Commission – an on-campus agency dedicated to improving I.V. – hosted the meeting to help inform local tenants of their rights as renters. The commission also provided food and a raffle with prizes including three free videotaping sessions from the UCSB Community Housing Office and $25 gift certificates to the I.V. Bookstore and the UCen Bookstore. UCSB Police Dept. Officer Mark Signa moderated a panel of speakers who each gave a brief presentation with their tips on renting homes in I.V.
The panel included Community Housing Office Manager Roane Akchurin, lawyer Robin Unander from the Associated Students Legal Resource Center (ASLRC), BDC Management, Inc. President Robert Kooyman and Isla Vista Tenants’ Union member Joel Rodriguez-Flores.
Akchurin said she was dissatisfied with the turnout at the meeting.
“I was disappointed there weren’t more students here, but, to me, each students who gets this information will tell two more,” Akchurin said. “We need to get I.V. tenants out and fighting.”
ASLRC member Ryann Gastwirth, a fourth-year political science major, said she was also disappointed with the number of students who came to the meeting. She said she thinks students need to come together and take action to improve the living conditions in I.V.
“Students don’t care enough to come out here and do something about it,” Gastwirth said. “It makes it easier for landlords to take advantage [of them].”
During the meeting, Akchurin gave residents recommendations on how to protect their security deposits starting the moment they move in to a new residence.
“Document everything about your apartment – don’t just write it down, I’m talking taking photographs or video,” Akchurin said. “For ten bucks, [the Community Housing Office] will actually come out and video tape your apartment when you move in and when you move out.”
During the public comment period after the panel’s presentations, ASLRC member Rachel Weight asked the panel about the possibility of establishing rent control in I.V.
“It seems like you can’t find anywhere cheap and decent to live,” Weight said.
Kooyman said he thinks rent will become cheaper if the university builds more housing in I.V.
“It’s a supply and demand issue … once there’s more housing, rent will go down, and I’ll tell you, landlords don’t want their rentals sitting empty,” Kooyman said.
Weight, a senior global studies major, said she went to the meeting to ask questions about the living conditions and prices of Isla Vista rentals.
“I’ve had corporate and private landlords. … No one gets anything done on time, no one cares about students,” Weight said. “I’m just tired of spending a million dollars to live in a shithole.”
Selyna Perez, a senior political science major, said she attended the meeting because her landlord ignored water damage in her apartment, which led to mold problems. Perez said she wanted to know what actions she should take against him.
“I’m interested in [finding out] how I can do something before I move,” Perez said. “It’s really frustrating having to deal with such bad landlords in Isla Vista.”
Akchurin said the next town hall meeting will focus on moving out, and is planned for sometime in late May. She said the Community Housing Office can answer questions online about tenants’ rights and property rental issues.
“We now have a 24-hour advising website of laws and information and commonly asked questions, and we’ll respond to you by the next morning,” Akchurin said.