By Ben Parish
Each year the discussion about Floatopia reminds me of the ironic paradox that is Isla Vista: a majority of left-leaning students living under the semi-despotic rule of the I.V. Foot Patrol and Santa Barbara County. Has Alexis de Tocqueville’s democratic despotism or soft despotism come to reside in our midst? Isla Vista is a unique community, complete with its own values, culture and beliefs and deserves its own small governing body. Shouldn’t this community be able to govern itself or at least be allowed open representation?
As it stands, the average I.V. citizen lives under some mixture of county and university governing systems without any city council or elected representatives. Rational thinking leads any individual to conclude there must be a reason for the current governing structure, but isn’t this America? Aren’t we supposed to support the principles of federalism, which include representation at the local level, not an endless montage of mind-numbing excuses explaining why we’re denied a city council and other local officials? Our community possesses a unique personality and attributes and needs which are different than those of the greater Santa Barbara County due to demographics, geography and similar interests.
The existing framework governing I.V. is collapsing. Governor Brown’s attempted takeover of Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRA) will likely lead to the depletion of funding that led to recent community improvements such as the revamping of Pardall last year and the “green parking lot” across from Giovanni’s. Brown’s money grab will eliminate Santa Barbara County’s CRA and leave our community with limited funds. Moreover, the funds allocated for I.V. from UCSB are sure to dry up with its approaching budget crisis, if they haven’t already.
I.V. has a poor track record of being civil and has been responsible for numerous incidents no one wants to account for — such as Halloween and Floatopia — which the local authority is already attempting to deinstitutionalize. Additionally, the town lacks a sufficient amount of permanent residents who would take interest in governmental affairs and would shoulder responsibility for civic duty. Further, there may be a lack of desire to split civic work with scholarship or prioritize other extracurricular activities or job obligations they may be interested in pursuing. The history of I.V. has remained jaded through the last half century. However, this must change if the city is to survive financially and have the capacity to perform basic repairs.
Our community needs some type of local governing body not dependent on one representative, even though Doreen Farr has been a very strong advocate for the I.V. residents (remember, pandering to UCSB is her main re-election tactic, and I’m sure she’s keeping her fingers crossed for another 100 percent voter turnout in I.V. and Ellwood). Something has to be done to ensure city improvement through tax revenue, while also allowing students to speak more poignantly for themselves among representatives and governing bodies.