A Letter from Lois Capps to Isla Vista



Dear I.V. Community,

A little over a week ago, Isla Vista — and our community as a whole — was rocked by unspeakable violence. We lost six people. Six Gauchos, classmates, roommates and friends.

Together, we mourn this loss.

Isla Vista remains a special place for many, including me personally. Both my husband and I have spent a lot of time on campus and we lived in faculty housing just past I.V., near Sands, when we first moved here. So while the type of violence happening here is shocking, I know that the incredible community response is not.

It will take time to heal, and I have no doubt that we will. But we must not forget.

I have heard the frustration in the voices of those who grieve like Richard Martinez, father to Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, as he remembered his son and called for action. Far too often have we, as a nation, seen tragedy, but little changes to prevent it in the future.

This tragedy has shown us the gaps. We must ensure that our mental health system and law enforcement can work together to identify potentially dangerous individuals. We must help parents who are concerned that their sons or daughters might be a danger to himself, herself or others so that they have a meaningful way to seek help. And we need systems to make sure that threats of violence flagged on social media are taken seriously.

I have been in Washington this week already getting to work on some of these efforts. I was pleased that the entire California delegation joined me to lead a moment of silence on the floor of the House of Representatives on behalf of all those affected by this tragedy. Many of my colleagues have also joined my resolution in support of the I.V. community. In addition, on Friday I helped introduce a bill to start addressing ways to improve the interaction of our mental health and gun safety systems.

But there is more to do. Over the next few weeks I will be meeting with local and national advocates on these issues and others to identify the gaps and weak spots in the system, and propose ways to fix them.

Together we must not let Congress forget about Isla Vista or any of the number of places that have experienced this type of senseless violence.
We must act. We must act now on sensible, responsible violence prevention legislation for our nation. Because I agree that Not One More life should be lost. Not One More family should have to grieve like this. And Not One More community should be added to this list.

I will be hosting a Coffee with your Congresswoman event Thursday, June 5 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Caje Coffee on Embarcadero del Norte in Isla Vista. I’d love for you to join me so that we can have a conversation about your experiences over the last couple of weeks and what you would like to see Congress doing to ensure there is #NotOneMore tragedy.

Lois Capps is the U.S. Representative for California’s 24th congressional district.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, June 5, 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students.
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4 Responses to A Letter from Lois Capps to Isla Vista

  1. MrsDoverSharp Reply

    June 6, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Thanks for your heartfelt comments, Beth Krom and Michael Boyd. Michael Boyd led one of the nearly-successful movements (I think in the 1980’s) for IV Cityhood, which failed at the Santa Barbara County LAFCO. There were other movements in 1973, 1975, and 2001. Going 0-4 at LAFCO with city hood proposals is probably unprecedented in California history. Perhaps in this instance the State Legislature must step in and just designate IV its own administrative district, a small County. It has more population than several of California’s northernmost Counties. To Beth Krom, believe me, people in Isla Vista have tried incredibly hard to address the problems you mention. Some of them are simply not as severe as you believe, because perhaps you only hear about the infrequent disasters and don’t hear about the long tranquil periods. But IV could be so much better, and I bet Michael Boyd & I could fill the Isla Vista theater with people who went way, way beyond any normal devotion to civic matters, in their effort to improve IV, and ended up defeated by the administrative stonewalling by the County and UCSB.

  2. Beth Krom Reply

    June 5, 2014 at 7:16 am

    As a mother who lost a child to a fall from the Isla Vista cliffs five years ago, I have a very different view of Isla Vista than those who share memories of what a lovely little seaside community it was or is. So do the dozens of other families who have lost children or seen them badly injured from cliff falls, alcohol and drugs. My heart aches for the eight families who have entered our world over the past month — the parents of Sierra Markee Winkler who lost her life to a cliff fall May 4th, the six families who must grieve their losses in public and get daily reminders of the horror of Elliot Rodgers’ rampage in the press and online and Elliott’s parents who must carry both guilt and grief in the wake of this horrific tragedy. It is time to acknowledge that whatever Isla Vista was in the 1970’s, today is is a slum by the sea — a half square mile of degraded housing and infrastructure where death and myriad risks have gone unaddressed for too long. Why is the health, safety and well-being of students in IV such a low priority? Who truly cares about the welfare of students living in Isla Vista? Whether profiteering landlords or the for liquor stores, bars and illicit drug use, there is an unhealthy economy that thrives in Isla Vista. Beyond injury and death, substance abuse contributes to the high number of sexual assaults in IV. The degraded infrastructure, lack of lighting and sidewalks and issues of cliff safety are worse than you will find anywhere in California — not just any campus community, but ANYWHERE. All this to say that the spotlight the recent tragedy has thrown on Isla Vista should inspire more than gun control measures (which I whole-heartedly support), but also a massive investment by both private land owners, the County and UCSB to make Isla Vista a safe, well maintained community with all the public resources a student community deserves. Every life has value. It’s time to put your money where your priorities should have been for a long time. How sad that it has taken a tragedy of such massive proportion to inspire action.

    • Michael Boyd Reply

      June 5, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Who is looking out for the best interests of Isla Vistians? Is it the UC Administration, is it the County of Santa Cruz, maybe the Foot Patrol, or Lois Capps? Why doesn’t Isla Vista control it’s own destiny? Because everyone who is supposed to be looking out for Isla Vistians work for someone else; the University, the County, Sheriff, or the Congress. Isla Vista has no self government [cityhood] and has been denied its democratic rights to self determination since at least the 1970s when the community voted to burn the Bank of America. America [like all those so called adults looking out for Isla Vista's interests now in response to the tragic results of their nobles parentis view of Isla Vista] from their outside world, looking in that’s what I continue to read over and over again. The tragedy isn’t one caused by guns or knives, but one caused by fear of the young, and what results when you fail to channel all peoples yearnings for self determination and to choose their own destiny through City government. As far as all those tears for gun violence all these so-called adults, they reap what they have sewn, and will until Isla Vistians are free. The tragedy could [should] have been avoided; but the fear of Isla Vista self government prevented that option permanently I fear.

    • a Reply

      June 8, 2014 at 4:00 am

      These dismal conditions exist despite the extremely high rents and costs of living of Isla Vista…

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