Mini-feed: Isla Vista
Just as you wouldn’t dream of approaching your hallmates without doing a little preliminary Facebook research – fear not, it only becomes stalking when you start collecting hair samples – freshmen newcomers shouldn’t enter the streets of Isla Vista without taking some time to learn about its fantastic legends and lore.
Money to Burn
Chances are that at some point over the next four years or so you will pass long, exhaustive hours of lecture in Embarcadero Hall. Should you find yourself in this position, you might indulge your wandering thoughts with the knowledge that the very site of modern scholastic tranquility in which you sit was once the eye of a political and social storm that shook the county.
On Feb. 25, 1970, a large riot broke out in I.V. following a speech in Harder Stadium delivered by William Kunstler, a defense attorney and member of the “Chicago Seven” – a group charged with conspiracy to incite riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. After the speech, several hundred UCSB students, including former student Rich Underwood, marched toward a rally in I.V.’s Perfect Park. During this march, police mistook Underwood’s bottle of wine for a Molotov cocktail and began beating him. In retaliation, students began hurling rocks at police and local establishments. By the end of the night, the Bank of America was burned down and the streets of I.V. were flooded with tear gas.
The riot was preceded by several months of political unrest at UCSB, including rallies and protests concerning the firing of a UCSB teacher as well as the Vietnam War. Although the Bank of America was eventually rebuilt, it closed its doors in 1981. In its place, the university built Embarcadero Hall.
Long before surfer-boy Jack Johnson was crooning about his amorous lunches at the De la Guerra Dining Commons, the ocean vistas and raging drug culture of I.V. inspired the likes of rock icon Jim Morrison of the Doors. Local legend has it that the singer wrote the lyrics for “The Crystal Ship” after tripping on acid at Sands Beach and watching the glittering lights of oil Platform Holly off the coast of I.V. during a visit in 1967. Looking for a bit of inspiration of your own? Skip the LSD and feast your eyes instead on the skin-fest that is Del Playa Drive on a warm afternoon. Spiritually uplifting? Maybe not. Yummy? Definitely.
On the sunny April morning of Friday the 13th, I.V.’s most celebrated resident was found dead on the pavement of Del Playa Drive, apparently mauled to death by Cody, a local domestic canine. The Albino Raccoon of Isla Vista – a.k.a. “Great White,” “Albert” and “The Baby Polar Bear” – was, for many years, a highly esteemed member of the I.V. community. Many an Isla Vista resident can boast of a Friday or Saturday night encounter with the legendary mammal, whose notoriety is so profound that it has inspired the creation of at least seven Facebook groups. Controversy and mystery continue to surround the untimely passing of our majestic neighbor. It is rumored that its body was stolen and taken to a taxidermist, so that its earthly essence might continue to be revered by future generations. More mysterious still are allegations of continued “Great White” sightings by I.V. residents. Vengeful offspring, perhaps?
During the mid-1970s, a few dozen residents decided to relocate to the 6700 block of Sueno Road on an empty lot dubbed, “Tipi Village.” Here, residents set up tents and tipis, and ate vegetables from nearby community gardens. However, some community members began to complain about the waste produced by these villagers in the late 1970s. A couple thousand petitioners attempted to save the village, and they did, albeit temporarily. The movement caused a considerable commotion in I.V. and Goleta and even led to campaigns asking for the recall of local officials. Yet, in October 1979, following a plea and report from families associated with the Evangelical Orthodox Church, located in I.V., the county ordered an eviction of all Tipi Village residents, citing a number of sanitation problems. Today, a sign commemorating the village sits in its place on Sueno Road.