Beginning next school year, Tropicana Del Norte — an Isla Vista housing complex owned by UC Santa Barbara — will exclusively house Santa Barbara City College students, breaking an over a decade-long tradition of housing students from both schools in the same buildings.
Tropicana Gardens, the counterpart to Tropicana Del Norte, will now solely house UC Santa Barbara students.
The shift in housing is motivated by the different schedules of the two schools, said Dave Wilcox, executive director of Tropicana Student Living, which manages the two properties. Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) runs on a semester system, starting in August and ending in May, while UCSB works on a quarter system, starting in late September and ending in June.
“After evaluating our numbers over the past couple of years, [Tropicana Student Living] decided that it was best for all parties to make a change to better support both sets of students,” Wilcox said.
“Now, with all the students [in one dorm] attending the same school, everyone can start and end at the same time,” he added.
Wilcox emphasized that there will be no change in the number of SBCC students and UCSB students living in Tropicana Student Living overall.
“We aren’t adding anything or taking anything away,” Wilcox said. “Overall, we expect our SBCC student numbers and UCSB student numbers to stay roughly the same, with 300 SBCC and 600 UCSB students.”
SBCC students have been housed in Tropicana for over 20 years, Wilcox explained. The city college doesn’t have any residence halls near its campus, which is located in downtown Santa Barbara, so Tropicana has housed SBCC students who want a residence hall experience, Wilcox said. To get to school, SBCC students can take the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District line 15X from Tropicana Del Norte, he added.
Regardless of the housing change, Wilcox said that incoming UCSB and SBCC students will receive the exact same residence hall experience as students have had in the past.
“Now we can provide more direct services that are 100% geared towards their specific school,” Wilcox said.
Tropicana Student Living talked with both SBCC and UCSB administration to inform them of the decision and to see if there could be any negative impacts, but “everyone we spoke with all saw the benefits of making this shift,” Wilcox said.
Tropicana Del Norte is currently being advertised to SBCC students on the university’s website under the housing section, according to Wilcox. As opposed to living in a house or apartment in Isla Vista, downtown Santa Barbara or the general Santa Barbara area, Wilcox said, “if SBCC students want to have a residence hall experience, Tropicana is the only option available to them.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 5 of the Feb. 13, 2020 print edition of the Daily Nexus.