UCSB students and residents in Isla Vista are being asked to vote for Santa Barbara School Bond Measure I, totaling $135 million, in this election. Although the money will be spent on some worthy projects, like replacing a few of the portables with permanent classrooms, a substantial amount of the funds ($40 million) are going to be spent on a brand new, very expensive football stadium (like the ones you see in football-crazy Texas), as well as locker rooms, gyms, swimming pool decks and astro turf, hardly the type of projects that will ensure better education outcomes for students. Not one penny will be spent to hire effective teachers/principals or to improve school instruction or curriculum.

The real problem for students renting in Isla Vista or in other areas of Santa Barbara is that this property tax will be added to a long list of school bond taxes for which property owners are already paying, including a $110 million school bond issue generously approved by voters only five years ago. Other school bonds, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, have been consumed by the school district, with no improvement in academic performance.

Santa Barbara/Goleta has become one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. Currently, the vacancy rate for rental properties in Isla Vista is less than one percent, with students undergoing relentless rent increases year in and year out. The average rents for apartments are two and half times the national average. In this type of rental market, landlords will have no trouble increasing rents to offset the additional property taxes.

As you’re painfully aware, the cost of a college education has become unaffordable for many students and their parents. Please keep in mind if you’re thinking about voting for these bond measures, the additional taxes will be borne by you in the form of higher rents, contributing to the cost burden many of you are already experiencing. Please vote no on Measure I and J.

Lou Segal, “No on Measures I & J” campaign