The Ocean Road Project and the Long Range Development Plan, a.k.a. “Vision 2025,” are bad for the community, the environment and the university itself.
In the article about the Ocean Road Project (“Officials Pause Ocean Road Proposal,” Daily Nexus, Jan. 28) Director of Campus Planning and Design Tye Simpson was quoted saying “I think community groups and citizen organizations understand and appreciate these plans. They have not expressed a concern about the actual project.”
I am expressing my concern about the actual project and representing the opinion of a large portion of the Isla Vista community. This plan is not a positive thing. There are many reasons why.
The Ocean Road Project includes cutting down the eucalyptus trees on Ocean Road, which divide Isla Vista and UCSB. This valuable and symbolic grove of trees has a deep history of keeping UCSB and Isla Vista divided – on purpose. Cutting down these trees will more aggressively insert the jurisdiction of UCSB on the town of Isla Vista. Already, the University of California is attempting (successfully) to take over Isla Vista for its own purposes. For example, the I.V. Master Plan is discreetly driven by UCSB planning and interests. Construction for this plan is already underway. Isla Vista has a unique and significant cultural value and a history and potential for community activism and organization. Increasing university influence in the town with ominous imposition of authority through aggressive development and reworking the entire community to serve the capital interests of the University of California and other corporations that are deeply tied and interconnected in their planning, scheming and working is in no way good for the community.
The University of California is in a huge financial mess. There are fee raises, budget cuts, admissions cutbacks, staff layoffs, talks of cutting back discussion sections and TAs, constant squabbles among the regents trying to figure out how to stay afloat as a corporation (and a deeply corrupt one at that), all the while paying the chairman of the regents, Richard Blum, $800,000 a year. (Bling bling! He’s California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s husband, an investment banker and chairman and president of Blum Capital… Do you need that much money, really? What about the workers who make poverty wages? Spread the wealth, man.) This is an unrealistic situation to stimulate more expansion, and yet the UC is continuing to plan and carry out expansion on many of its campuses.
The University of California claims to be aiming for sustainability and attempting to be “climate neutral.” Cutting down trees and building housing for 1,000 new residents of an already overcrowded Isla Vista is not sustainable.
UCSB claims to be concerned about the environmental impact on the coastal community and coastal sustainability. As a coastal town, Isla Vista’s environmental impact is already devastatingly negative to this area. The University comments on the degradation of the coastal region and our impact already; imagine how negatively the environment will be impacted if thousands more people move into the Isla Vista area. An unsustainable town will become an even bigger producer of waste. This isn’t even to mention the unnecessary energy used and waste produced to construct all the parts of these plans.
With the world on the brink of environmental catastrophe, is this really a good idea? Maybe we should use this money to build solar panels for the new grad student housing that was just built (no solar panels on a brand new building? How is this sustainable?).
As you can see, I have many problems with the expansion of the University of California, more than I’ve listed here, and I’m definitely not the only one. I express these concerns not just at this crucial time for envisioning alternatives for the direction of the world, but always. Unrestrained, unquestioned growth is foolish and will be devastating economically, environmentally and culturally.
Maybe they should figure out how to sustain a university of this size before attempting to make it bigger. As you can see, there is opposition to this unchecked, undemocratic expansion. Just because we can’t go to all the super-secret “public” meetings because we’re students and these meetings are not well advertised doesn’t mean we don’t care or have differing opinions. Before you speak on behalf of the community, maybe you should try listening to the community first.