Recently, at a dinner party with friends in Goleta, an interesting question was asked that left me like a deer in the headlights, trying to find an answer. What does it take to get the Isla Vista community to show any interest in local politics?
The question has bounced around inside my head since then, and I still find myself at a loss for any reasonable answer. Even as a longtime resident of this community, the lack of interest in local politics by many of Isla Vista’s residents remains to be summed up in a simple explanation to this question: Is it just plain apathy or is it more than that?
Isla Vista has always posed an interesting dynamic in local politics. It has always been difficult to gauge the way we vote, and from this lack of understanding assumptions are made about this community being a potential “voting bloc” that would seriously affect long-term decisions for Goleta. This has always been the rhetoric of organizations such as Concerned Taxpayers, I.N.C. and its misinformed, anti anything environmental contingency, headed by Justin Rhuge. Their observations, based on sheer bitterness, convoluted logic and manipulation of the data, stand in favor of excluding Isla Vista from the Goleta cityhood proposal. This would be a major mistake.
The desire to exclude I.V. is based on speculations that Isla Vistans have ruined elections by voting en masse against anyone this miserable group has tried to pass off as a candidate for 3rd District County Supervisor (i.e. Willy Chamberlain and Larry Mills) or for 22nd Congressional District (i.e. Andrea Seastrand, Tom Bordonaro and Mike Stoker). Concerned Taxpayers’ logic (lack of logic is a better assessment) is that if Isla Vistans had not been allowed to vote in the local elections, Concerned Taxpayers’ candidates would have won.
But if anyone carefully analyzes the numbers provided, it is mathematically clear that among the total number of votes cast against Concerned Taxpayers’ candidates, those coming from I.V.’s voting precincts do not add up to the significant “voting bloc” mentioned above.
With Goleta cityhood on the horizon and the upcoming Local Agency Formation Commission meeting just around the corner, the issue of Isla Vista’s inclusion seems to be the hot item. And believe me when I say the speculations will fly. Isla Vista would provide, as it does already, a major portion of the labor force and tax base necessary for the survival of the city of Goleta. The facts are there, as many an article has pointed out. But still the negative speculations remain.
So how can it be proved that the inclusion of Isla Vista would be beneficial to the future city of Goleta? This simple answer is community involvement. But this leads me back to the question from the dinner party: What does it take to get Isla Vistans involved in local politics? There’s still no simple answer to the question, but maybe facts will help. If the Goleta cityhood proposal goes through and we’re excluded, we truly will be second-class citizens with no voice in matters of necessary services and funds for community repairs, such as roads and street lights.
We will remain as an unincorporated area with no true representation other than the twisted “facts” presented by people like Justin Rhuge and his so-called “Concerned Taxpayers” who paint a negative view of this community. Do we really want this to be our future? Personally, it’s not my wish to be treated like a second-class citizen. My plan is to attend the LAFCO meeting on Thursday, April 26, and my goal is to convey the fact that all of Isla Vista would be a valuable addition to the Goleta cityhood plan.
I can only wish that other Isla Vista residents will join me in this effort. What would it take for community involvement? All one has to do is remember that while we are here attaining an education, we depend on county services that are dependent on how much money is available. Incorporated areas tend to receive more attention than unincorporated areas, which is what we currently are. If we remain as such, we get left behind in the decision making.
Do not leave it to the lies presented by bitter crackpots who see Isla Vistans as a bunch of transient, slacker enviro-nuts out to ruin it for Goleta and then move on to other places. This description is far from any form of the truth, but there are those that believe it, and they will express it to LAFCO. It is our job to prove otherwise on Thursday, April 26. It all comes down to how the case is presented. Facts of fiction, truth or lies? That depends on who presents it in front of LAFCO.
The LAFCO meeting will be held at 4 p.m in the Board of Supervisors hearing room located at 105 E. Anapumu St. in downtown Santa Barbara.
Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.