The I.V. Master Plan proposes in its opening statement of the initiation draft to “make strategic adjustments to the way the community is designed and operated, so that it will better suit the needs and aspirations of its residents.” The Project Area Committee and General Plan Advisory Committee (PAC/GPAC), a group of residents, property owners, business owners and representatives of community organizations that facilitate formal review of the Master Plan, have failed to uphold the mission of the development project.
More than 70 students and residents attended a meeting held by the PAC/GPAC on Wednesday, April 14, to protest against a plan to require permits for parking in I.V. The PAC/GPAC ignored the arguments made by the public that were opposed to the high cost of an annual permit, voting overwhelmingly to approve the plan at its meeting.
Isla Vista has a population of 20,000 residents – comprised of two-thirds students and one-third Hispanic residents. The 2000 census population description for Santa Barbara County states that the “median household income is higher for the non-Hispanic white versus Hispanic in all communities except the student community of Isla Vista and for Vandenberg Air Force Base.”
This data reveals how the student population has much in common with the Hispanic population, as both have low-incomes and face a high cost of living in I.V.
The census identifies the labor force participation rates for Hispanic and non-Hispanic white categories. The data reveals that “Hispanic females have a higher labor force participation rate than non-Hispanic white females and Hispanic males have the highest labor force participation rate of all
subcategories, including non-Hispanic white males.”
In light of the Hispanic population’s higher rates of labor participation, the added responsibility of raising a family creates a clear distinction between the economic status of the student body and the overworked and underpaid Hispanic community. However, this difference should not be interpreted as a barrier for collaboration between the non-Hispanic white student body and the Hispanic population in preventing the passage of the parking plan at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting on May 18.
I highlight this difference to identify the divisions being perpetuated by the PAC/GPAC following their vote of approval for the parking program on April 14.
In an attempt to save face from their undemocratic vote, which ignored a clear majority in opposition of the parking plan, the Santa Barbara County planner and other members of the PAC/GPAC organized an April 23 meeting with the Associated Students. There, I asked if the Hispanic and undocumented population had been contacted to participate in the dialogue.
To my dismay, the members of the PAC/GPAC could not provide an answer. However, this comment quickly changed the tone of the discussion, with students taking the lead in demanding that the parking program take into consideration the economic status of the Hispanic and undocumented residents.
Jamie Goldstein, Santa Barbara County Redevelopment Agency (SBCRA) project manager, fails to recognize the larger socioeconomic inequalities that have been documented in previous studies. This was grossly revealed when Goldstein stated that “the parking permit fee is not a substantial amount of money in comparison to total cost of car maintenance including car payments, insurance and gas.” This statement ignores the gender inequalities faced by Hispanic women who earn lower incomes than their male counterparts and face greater economic difficulties as single parents do.
The parking fee initiative will negatively impact minorities and the larger low-income, non-Hispanic white population. It no longer serves an altruistic purpose, but reflects a gentrification model that advances race and class discrimination. The PAC/GPAC did not represent the interests of the larger I.V. community to approve the initiative on April 14, and should not be approved by the County Board of Supervisors on May 18.
The Student Coalition on Racial Equality (SCORE), the Green Party of Santa Barbara County and the Women’s Studies Dept. at UCSB support this article and “call for serious consideration of the class, racial/ethnic and gender impact of the proposed plan and for a solution that does not have discriminatory impact on either the Latino/a or student population of Isla Vista.”
Oscar Gil is a sociology graduate student.