For those procrastinators who still haven’t found a place to live for the upcoming school year: No need to start decorating a cardboard box in the park; there is still housing available in Isla Vista.
Although some I.V. property owners have had their tenants lined up since January, there is a slight excess of housing this year. Community Housing Office Manager Roane Akchurin said property owners have called her office and mentioned that there has been a decrease in the number of renters they have so far this year.
“It’s not a drastic number but there’s definitely been kind of an opening happening,” she said. “We’ve noticed it into the spring and into the summer.”
According to a quarterly report put out by the Community Housing Office, there were 160 less students living in I.V. last spring than there were in spring 2001. Although not a significant decrease, the difference does account for the increase in available housing.
Isla Vista Tenants Union (IVTU) Office Manager Jessica Larr said she thinks the excess in available housing is due to increasing rental costs.
“Based on my personal experience with housing in Isla Vista, I think it’s the cost of housing. It just keeps going up and up and up. People can’t afford to [live in I.V.],” she said. “If they’re not moving away to downtown or Goleta then more people are moving in together. I have some friends who have 10 people living in a six-person house because it’s just too expensive, and the cost of rent goes up every year.”
Akchurin said it is a fallacy to attribute the increase in available housing to the increase in the cost of rent, because the costs of rent in I.V. have actually gone down according to the Community Housing Offices comprehensive study.
“What our sense is, is there’s just more availability on the market and what’s happening … with the economy the way it is, people are commuting more, or they’re moving out of town,” she said. “I think about 5,000 or 6,000 [UCSB students] live in I.V.; the other 9,000 live in the community. There is just more availability in the market right now. People are just renting more rooms in their homes. It doesn’t directly correlate with the university, because we don’t have less students. When the general economy goes down, the market opens up.”
IVTU member Harley Augustino said he thinks it is a combination of the cost of living and more available housing, specifically Manzanita Village, the new dorm complex on campus that will house approximately 800 students.
“Manzanita Village is another addition that students may be choosing because it’s cheaper than living in I.V.,” he said. “The rent [in I.V.] is higher than living in Santa Barbara where you can get a nicer place to live.”
Property owner Ed St. George said he thinks the reason for available housing is a lot of students are opting to move downtown rather than live in I.V.
“I think that there is a large influx of people moving downtown because of the [I.V.] Foot Patrol cracking down so hard. I get a lot of feedback from kids I rent to and their parents and I think that kids are just sick of I.V. and all its citations,” he said. “I would rather have [students] walk down DP and Sabado, rather than drive home drunk to downtown. The supervisor’s office has put so much pressure on the Foot Patrol because of those kids who were killed last year, even though that was an isolated incident that didn’t even involve alcohol.”
Supervising Building Inspector for Isla Vista Ken Forman, said he thinks this slight excess of housing in I.V. will be very positive for the community.
“One of our main concerns is illegal living units, such as garages that have been converted without permits. That has a real negative impact on the community,” he said. “I know there are a number of them out there, but typically the people who live in them are content because there’s not alternative housing. What’s encouraging to me … if the capacity of Isla Vista is not at its maximum, maybe there’s not that need for those types of units.”
Forman said he does encourage I.V. residents to take advantage of the housing inspector’s office if problems do arise with a property owner.
“We are primarily a complaint-driven program, so we’re available if somebody has an issue with the house that they’re living in and the landlord doesn’t give them satisfaction. For example if the roof leaks or the water heater doesn’t work, and the landlord won’t do the repairs they can call us and our inspector will go out and visit them on the site,” he said. “If it is in violation of the housing code we’ll contact the owner and force them to make the necessary repairs.”
The I.V. housing inspector can be reached at 685-0913.