Every time I read in the Nexus about the Isla Vista Master Plan, pedal through Pardall Road on my way to class and see protesting signs, or when one of my friends invites me via Facebook to one of the anti-Isla Vista Master Plan groups, I can’t help but roll my eyes. It surprises me that there is an outcry against people trying to turn Isla Vista into a nicer place. Isla Vista is a slum, and anyone who disagrees is looking through rose-colored glasses. If you need proof that Isla Vista is a slum, simply look at Del Playa Drive on a Sunday morning, view one of the many houses or apartment buildings in terrible condition or ask anyone with an ounce of common sense in their noggin that has lived in Isla Vista.
Isla Vista is long overdue for a revamp, and thankfully, Santa Barbara is finally getting around to making this place nicer for future students. I’m fine with Isla Vista looking similar to downtown State Street, because I enjoy going downtown and walking around State Street. I’m fine with the poorly maintained water and sewage systems being updated to 21st century standards, because I prefer my water without the taste of motor oil and raw sewage. Most of all, I think Isla Vista would look great with an architectural update.
The complaint about the Master Plan destroying the culture of Isla Vista is complete nonsense. Isla Vista is a party town, which has the cultural integrity of a “Robot Chicken” episode. It’s not often that you walk around and see litter all around the sidewalks consisting of 30-pack cases, broken glass bottles, beer cans, cigarette butts, old furniture, etc. The update of Isla Vista isn’t suddenly going to bring an Emporio Armani outlet to Isla Vista. The stores in Isla Vista all operate around the price point of students on a budget, and that will never change. Rent in Isla Vista will keep rising, because the demand will always be there.
As for the possibility of more chains moving into Isla Vista, what authority am I to tell students on what they should and shouldn’t be allowed to purchase? The other improvements such as increased street lighting and bigger sidewalks are also a plus. I don’t how understand how anyone could be angry at those additions, unless you are just protesting for the sake of protesting — which is most likely the case.
Finally, everyone’s favorite controversial card to pull in Isla Vista politics, similar to how the Republican Party exploits 9/11 imagery, is the trump card of the low-income families. I’m sorry to inform you, but Isla Vista isn’t the sole place of residence for low-income families in Santa Barbara, or in California. Isla Vista is a college town that is next to a top university that will always be in existence. I can understand the difficulties of having to relocate, and it pains me to see the struggle of having to see these families working together in crews picking up the trash after our late-night partying. There is no clean-cut simple solution. However, I can assure you rent will keep rising in Isla Vista as the student population increases, and at some point, it will become economically unfeasible for low-income families to continue to live in Isla Vista. It’s not pretty, but nothing in life is perfect and there is an ugly side to everything.
I look forward to the changes in Isla Vista, and plan to check them out when I come back to visit. Hopefully one day, my children will have the honor of attending UCSB and be in a better living environment than I was. I think we should all take a step back and focus on other efforts, and let the Master Plan take effect. Instead of crying foul for what effects the Master Plan will have on low-income families, I suggest that those protesting donate some of their time to help feed and clothe these families instead of giving them a trashcan full of empty Natural Light cans. It is very easy to stomp and pout over someone’s rights, and it’s another thing to actually go out and do something for them.