I became interested and involved in the Goleta incorporation effort about four years ago. The committee for Goleta Beach hired me to gather signatures for its incorporation proposal. The proposal included Isla Vista. Unfortunately, we failed to gather the necessary number of signatures to get it under study and on the ballot. However, I did end up getting 6,000 signatures myself and talking to a lot of people, and this is what I learned.
The majority of people in Goleta are afraid of the influence of the students. Many, in fact, despise it. The people of Goleta are well aware of the fact that students generally vote in large blocks and usually not for the issues that most Goletans support. Generally, when I approached someone to get a signature, the first question he or she asked was, “Is Isla Vista included?” When I asked why, many cited the example of Berkeley, where the students and their vote totally took over the area. These people are afraid, and I can’t say that they don’t have legitimate reason.
The university community is responsible for many of our elected representatives. Both U.S. Representative Lois Capps and 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall depend on I.V. and the students for their votes so they can retain office. Marshall receives about 75 percent of the Isla Vista vote. Walter Capps would never have been elected to Congress if it weren’t for the students. Many people in Goleta don’t want the students determining who is on their city council. Furthermore, the people of Goleta despise the fact that the students come for a few years and vote, but won’t be around to live with what they voted for. Many students vote for bond issues that are paid for by higher property taxes. Few, if any, students own property. Furthermore, taxes end up pushing up the cost of living. Most students don’t realize this, but the rent of future students is affected by these votes as well. Bond payments generally last for long periods, such as 30 years. Students generally only stay for around four years!
Anyone can argue until they are blue in the face that if I.V. and UCSB were included as part of the current city proposal, the new city would have substantially more money to work with. The truth is that the people of Goleta would gladly give up that revenue to be politically free from I.V. If Isla Vista were included in the current proposal, the city of Goleta would just end up failing at the ballot again. So, in either case, I.V. is going to stay the way that it is.
This leads me to a question. Why would I.V. want to be part of Goleta anyway? Please don’t show me any charts. I also don’t want to see the demographics or financial feasibility studies. Really, why would I.V. want to be part of Goleta? Isla Vista is Bohemia in its truest form. If it were part of Goleta, it would change and be much different than the area that we cherish. If we had a city council, we’d end up having to take down all of the shoes from the telephone poles, and that would totally ruin I.V.’s character. I used to live in I.V. and I like the way that it is. I still venture in to party on DP from time to time and would think that it would be quite a shame if it changed for any reason at all. I know that much of I.V. is quite dirty and I am certain that many people want the access to greater sanitary facilities. But the reality is that there is not enough justification to incorporate.
So what is left? Maybe Isla Vista should consider becoming a city of its own! I think that it would be rather chaotic, but it would give many local commentators and comedians alike much needed material to discuss. The mayoral race would be somewhat like our student elections. Heck, just as the mayor was finishing his term, he’d be ready to graduate! But the idea is worth considering.
If I.V. really wanted to be part of the city of Goleta, they should stop backing spineless politicians like Gail Marshall. Recently, she gave a huge speech in front of the LAFCO board supporting I.V. inclusion and ended up not voting for it – that’s pathetic. But in the end, it really doesn’t matter because she knows that when re-election time comes again, anyone in I.V. who is angry with her will have graduated and moved on. Besides, she also has to prove to Goleta that she somehow represents them, too!
Michael C. Warnken is a senior economics major and philosophy major.