I am a UCSB sophomore. This school year I needed a way to lower my rent in Isla Vista, so I took a job as the on-site manager of the building I live in. After holding this job for a quarter and a half I have developed a different outlook on what goes on in I.V., especially the discussion among students about high rents and bad landlords.
Like so many other students, my friends and I recently had to search for housing for next year. As we kicked around housing options, we kept hearing about complexes that had cheap rent, but were too dirty or too far away from campus. Like everyone else, we blamed the landlords. As property owners it’s their job to make sure properties are livable and nice for the students. The landlords shouldn’t be charging high rents because the living conditions are horrible, and we have no choice but to live in Isla Vista.
Now, I want to tell all of you who agree with the last paragraph to listen closely. It is not the landlords we should blame for the state Isla Vista is in! It is us! We, as residents, throw our garbage everywhere, causing our streets to look trashy. It is the students who break beer bottles around our neighborhoods and on our lawns. It is you and I who break fence boards around our residences, causing properties to look like something out of the Ozarks. And it is the students who stain carpets, ruin floors and put holes in walls, not the landlords.
Yes, I’m a student, but since I’m also a manager, I have to clean up after all the things we do, and then I hear the things we say. They do not match up. If I spill beer on the carpet or tequila on my kitchen floor, the floor and carpet will be discolored. I will leave this apartment in a year or two and new students will move in. New landlords will fix the floor and might replace the carpet, but after another group of students moves in and the same thing happens again, the landlords wise up. This process gets expensive so the landlord stops spending the money. I actually pity the landlords who have to clean up after our mess year after year.
Admit it! We are irresponsible! These apartments are temporary so we don’t care. Students blame landlords, but the landlords did not trash it, we did.
“Okay, we’re slobs, but the rent is so high, the landlords deserve it!” Right? Wrong. First off, in the real world (outside of I.V.) if you make a mess, like we all do Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (and – why lie – Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well), you get evicted. Plain and simple.
If the cost of housing is too high, forget Del Playa or someplace close to campus. Move further back into I.V. The rent gets cheaper, but we’re lazy. We don’t want to bike too far to get to school, or live someplace out of the action. So we all try for the places close to campus or near the ocean. And because of this, the prices go up.
Students may feel that’s not fair, but it’s just supply and demand. People want the best locations, but there are a limited number so the rents go up. I want to scream when I hear Del Playa residents complaining about high rents. You have beach access and ocean views! Yes, the neighborhood is noisy, messy and crowded. Is that the landlords’ fault? Bitch at the people who make the mess and the noise, not the landlords.
Crowding is a problem in Isla Vista. We have so many students, and not enough apartments. Somehow, some say this, too, is the landlords’ fault. I can’t figure out that one.
It is the county and the coastal commission who stop new building, not the landlords. County policies led to the overcrowding in I.V. If overcrowding leads to the messy state of our community, how is this the landlord’s fault? It is the county officials and the students who support them to whom we should turn and demand reform. Should rent be lowered because we really want it lower? Life just does not work that way. If it did, we would all have very nice cars. We need to get on the same wavelength as the rest of the world. Stop blaming the people who provide housing, and start focusing on the people who block the housing we need. Let the county know that their policies are bogus.
We need to grow up. We need to take responsibility for our own mess. And we need to hold the county responsible for the housing shortage.
Life is hard enough as it is. Barking up the wrong tree won’t make it easier.
Jackie Silverman is a sophomore film studies major.