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Improvements Needed

UCSB May Be a LEEDer, but I.V. Stays a Trash Breeder


Sunday, August 25, 2013
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Anyone visiting the UC Santa Barbara campus immediately notices the natural beauty of the location and the relatively pristine condition of the buildings and common areas. Housing a university adjacent to a beach may not seem like the best way to promote a serious learning environment, but it’s the perfect location to educate young people about the need for environmental awareness.

Cat Neushul

Recently, Sierra Magazine, the official publication of the Sierra Club, recognized UC Santa Barbara for its dedication to green building, water conservation, environmental education, and more. The school ranked 10th in the Sierra Club’s 2013 list of the 162 “Coolest Schools,” with the University of Connecticut coming in at No. 1.

To rank the schools, Sierra Club surveyed students on energy use, educational instruction, water usage, planning, purchasing, and so on. The magazine chose an iconic photo for UCSB — a sea of bicycles with Storke Tower in the background.

UC Santa Barbara won its high ranking based on several factors:

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification of 44 of its buildings

• 50 percent locally produced fresh produce in residence halls

• 75 percent of waste diverted from landfills through recycling and composting with a goal to bring that to 100 percent by 2020

• A decrease in electricity usage by a third since the ‘90s

• Alternative transit usage by 94 percent of students headed to class

• 47 percent of departments offer a class on sustainability (this translates to 321 classes with 217 faculty members who do research on the environment)

With these types of statistics, it’s obvious that UCSB is doing its part to ensure that environmental issues are addressed on campus. This is not surprising — it would be next to impossible for anyone spending day after day in the university’s slice of paradise not to think about protecting the environment.

But there is another side to this issue. If you walk from campus into Isla Vista, a community that is predominantly occupied by students, you see this difference immediately. One area is clean and well maintained; the other tends to resemble a slum in places. It’s as if the magical barrier conjured up by Gandalf in Lord of the Rings has been raised between the two: UCSB values “Shall Not Pass” into I.V. and spread environmental ideas.

I.V.’s Developed Improvements

Several new housing complexes have gone up in downtown I.V., however, that are improving the area. Landlords like Ed. St. George have designed housing complexes like Campus 880 that are designed to be environmentally friendly and attract conscientious residents. Other owners have decided to renovate and beautify their properties. Even with these improvements, though, the main problems still beg to be addressed. If UCSB students receive education in sustainability and environmental awareness, why is Isla Vista often used as a trash pit for red cups and garbage, and its streets used as a dumping grounds? Why aren’t there solar panels on every property and water conservation devices in every residence?

The physical differences between university and town extend to I.V.’s residents. While UCSB students might be environmentally aware, they share I.V. with Santa Barbara City College students and other residents — who may be environmental blockheads. And, after students are taught and trained, they leave after four years. A new wave of students arrive, have to be trained, and the cycle continues.

UCSB’s Role in I.V.

Over the years, I’ve written about the positive influence UCSB representatives have had on the Isla Vista community. The university brings art, music, and educational programs to I.V. in myriad ways. However, there is one way the university is failing. It hasn’t figured out how to use its army of 22,000 to influence the Isla Vista community to clean up its act and implement environmentally conscious approaches.

I can think of a thousand ways professors, graduate students, and students can use their knowledge to change the local environment. I’m sure university representatives, and the other creative minds at UCSB, can think of even better solutions. With the amount of people-power UCSB can throw at this issue, Isla Vista could become the well-cared-for beachside community it is meant to be.

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"they share I.V. with Santa Barbara City College students and other residents — who may be environmental blockheads."

I feel like that's quite a generalization. I know plenty of UCSB students that are the farthest thing from environmentally friendly. lumping SBCC students & other residents into a whole category of "environmental blockheads" doesn't seem very fair.

kburns1124 (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2013 at 7:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The UCSB campus may be clean and well-planned vs. Isla Vista, but how much does that cost (designers, planners, maintenance personnel, etc.) compared to how much the community’s government (the University and the County) spends in the half-square-mile town situated entirely within the campus that the UC Regents intentionally left for private development? Noting that 94% of student traffic is “alternative” as this article states, a group of formerly elected officials from the town lobbied to make the downtown car-free during the hearings to establish the so-called “Isla Vista Master Plan” – just as the business-parts of the campus are car-free. But local commercial interests prevailed and the result is disheartening. Surely the article’s claim that the new high-rise buildings are “improving the area” is a minority opinion. I.V. will always be a “dumping ground” for the U and the County until residents seize the reigns. Granted, they are currently not as ready as they once were . . . .

Carmelo (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2013 at 12:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Why is UCSB not being held to account for Isla Vista its student ghetto? Why is that after 30 years when I recieved my Bank Burning Award from the IVCC for collecting over 1,500 signatures on and off campus to make IV/UCSB in to a City is that still not the case? It's because of power and the myth of democracy in America. The UCSB administration and faculty don't trust a bunch of students to exercise their rights of self determination through self government. The sad results is the Isla Vista community of today; where it is more than a physical ghetto it is democracy ghetto too. This embodies what Ernst Bloch has called “the swindle of fulfillment.” That is, instead of fostering a democracy rooted in the public interest, they encourage a political and economic system controlled by the rich, but carefully packaged in consumerist and militarist fantasy. Instead of promoting a society that embraces a robust and inclusive social contract, they legitimate a social order that shreds social protections, privileges the wealthy and powerful and inflicts a maddening and devastating set of injuries upon workers, women, poor minorities, immigrants, and low- and middle-class young people. Instead of striving for economic and political stability, they inflict on Americans marginalized by class and race uncertainty and precarity, a world turned upside-down in which ignorance becomes a virtue and power and wealth are utilized for ruthlessness and privilege rather than a resource for the public good.

mikeeboyd (anonymous profile)
August 25, 2013 at 1:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Cat, you really should do some deeper exploration of the history of Isla Vista and the power dynamics between its residents, the county, and UCSB before you issue broad edicts for improvement or blindly embrace the gentrification of the community (citing some of your earlier articles here). Please please stop by the History of IV class given by students each year or visit the special collections at the UCSB library. Even better go speak to student and community leaders who have often spend years fighting to improve the community.

A_M (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2013 at 1:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This article, by omission of the known facts, was worse than worthless. UCSB is not a paragon of environmental friendliness.
Sorry mike, the fact that you submitted a petition in order to make a bunch of transient residents the king/queen/jack of a town that could not be self sustaining is hardly proof of your vast "us vs them" conspiracy.
I.V. is a mess due to circumstances that are both within and beyond it's control. Students that are largely living off of their parents bank accounts with no plan to stay will never be a demographic formula for making things better.
UCSB AND the county have never provided the infrastructure resources that were necessary to begin making IV less of a crap hole.
Except for some pockets of sanity IV sucks and has sucked for a long, long time.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2013 at 6:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

IV is a cesspool - it always will be, as long as students/renters make up the populace. The best thing would be for UCSB to annex and bulldoze the entire place.

banjo (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2013 at 11:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

In my opinion italiansurg is exactly correct.

LegendaryYeti (anonymous profile)
August 31, 2013 at 11:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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