Trouble in Isla Vista

The Neighborhood Is Going to Hell in a Handbasket

Monday, August 11, 2014
Article Tools
Print friendly
E-mail story
Tip Us Off
iPod friendly
Share Article

There’s a famous line from The Godfather: Part III in which Michael Corleone says, “Just when I thought I was out … they pull me back in.” That is the way I feel about the negative vortex that seems to surround Isla Vista right now. Just when things have calmed down, and interested parties have begun to regroup and work toward bringing about positive change, there is more trouble.

Cat Neushul

On August 2, three incidents occurred that put Isla Vista in a bad light yet again. The first crime occurred at approximately 3:20 a.m. on Sueno Road. On his way home, a man was approached by a suspect holding a handgun, demanding money. When the victim was unable to comply, the suspect fled. The suspect was described as being a college-aged Hispanic male, with a dark complexion, black hair, and wearing a dark-colored, zip-up sweatshirt.

The next incident occurred on Sabado Tarde Road sometime around 3:30 a.m. It was also a robbery involving a firearm. The suspect approached the victim asking if he had change for a $20 bill. When the victim opened his wallet and showed the money, the suspect pulled out a handgun and demanded that he hand it over. The suspect took the money and fled. He is described as a college-aged Hispanic male, about 5’9”, 140 pounds, with medium length curly, dark hair and dark skin, wearing jeans and a dark sweater.

The last crime also occurred at about 3:30 a.m and involved a man entering a young woman’s apartment, masturbating, and giving her a kiss before leaving. A young woman reported seeing a Hispanic male in his thirties standing on her patio. She left the apartment for 30 minutes, and when she returned her roommate said she had woken up to find the man standing over her. The suspect is described as dark skinned with a shaved head, 5’6” and 220 pounds. He was said to be wearing a baggy white T-shirt and baggy blue plaid shorts.

And That’s Not All Folks

The crimes that end up on the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s blotter are the particularly noteworthy ones. Smaller incidents occur all the time. This week alone, the police were called to break up a fight on my street at 3:30 am, and to investigate a suspect brandishing what looked like a firearm, but ended up being a pellet gun, on the next block.

I’m not sure why 3:30 a.m. is the witching hour, but the fight on my street started around this time. Unfortunately, the house at the end of our street seems to be cursed. No matter how nice the residents are, there seems to be trouble. This time it was a huge fight that involved people screaming obscenities (in English and a Slavic language), knocking things over, and waking up everyone. After a neighbor called the police, officers showed up and arrested several people. It took an hour for the police to sort everything out and finish interviewing the people involved.

The day before, around mid-afternoon, several police cars were parked on the next block. They were investigating a report of a suspect with a gun. They descended on the man with guns at the ready. Turned out that the guy was holding a realistic-looking pellet gun. Why anyone in I.V. would think it was okay to brandish a pellet gun, or any other sort of gun, in this particular climate is baffling. In the past, students have thought it was fun to use pellet guns to shoot at birds or other animals. While it was merely disgusting before, now it is reprehensible. Obviously the guy who was descended upon by a swarm of police officers learned his lesson, but what about everyone else? Maybe every resident should be given a list of stupid things people do in I.V. and the repercussions that might ensue.

The Trouble with Isla Vista

The area has to receive a social makeover and change the prevailing culture. Again and again, students claim that they have the right to party, get wasted, and play their music as loud as they want. In the past, good-natured debauchery was accepted. However, things have changed. The debauchery has taken a negative turn. There is nothing fun about murder, rape, robbery at gunpoint, and general mayhem.

Many suggestions have been made to improve the current situation. Here are a few:

UC Santa Barbara and SBCC could kick out students who run afoul of the law a certain number of times. Kind of a “three strikes you are out” kind of rule.

UC Santa Barbara could hire students living in I.V. as local representatives for a type of community watch program. Their job would be to get to know everyone in a particular area, identify potential problems, and provide a contact person for residents with questions or concerns. Just as residence halls have a resident assistant, each block or street of I.V. could have a local representative.

• Local residents have recommended that police begin regular foot patrols throughout I.V. Community policing in which officers get out of their cars and interact with residents on a daily basis seems to improve results. As part of this effort, police officers could take a particular block, get to know who lives in each of the houses, and identify issues before they become problems. Some houses never have any problems, and others have chronic issues. Preventative measures could be employed.

• One of the other suggestions involves Isla Vista developing a form of self-governance, such as becoming a city, being annexed by a local city, or creating a governing association like a community council. Local meetings are planned to discuss this possibility. The next one is scheduled for October.

Any way you look at it, however, it is clear that something needs to be done. The status quo is not working. I.V. needs a makeover, and some positive press — pronto.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

THX Cat - All good suggestions... It's also good that you make people aware that things are still not well in IV. When are the powers that be at UCSB going to become aware that the mayhem in IV is having a major impact on the school's academic reputation? If... the UCSB leadership is aware of the fallout from IV... Why aren't they doing more about it? Drug and alcohol education might be a start. The UC leadership is a Cal statewide organization, with immense resources at its disposal... yet action from UCSB seems negligible. Pls keep us informed Cat. As an alum and parent of a current student, these problems are on my radar screen ...

BondJamesBond (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 7:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good ideas, Cat. I lived 8 years in IV in the late 60s/70s, and from your honest litany of IV woes it seems like not too much has changed:
"The area has to receive a social makeover and change the prevailing culture. Again and again, students claim that they have the right to party, get wasted, and play their music as loud as they want. In the past, good-natured debauchery was accepted. "
What was different back in the day were: -)some idealism and beliefs in supposed higher goals [however crazy they might seem today]; -)a lot fewer students; -)a lot more serious students, many of whom like me were working 30 hours a week at day jobs and were quite serious about our studies and about life [& not so into partying, tho we did that, too, of course!]; -)fewer violent types, fewer weapons, fewer as*holes as well as fewer demented sorts like David Attias, E. Rodgers;
IV needs a foot patrol badly, just like SB's Westside! Didn't IV at one time have an extensive Foot Patrol?
SOME ENTITY HAS TO TAKE OWNERSHIP! UCSB, City of Goleta, IV is like a rudderless ship with some serious students and a lot of hangers-on out to have a good time, f**k-around, ...
No one wants responsibility for this "student-city" gone berserk.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 8:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Wow, you want police to go around to everybody's house and get to know the residents?? What a horrible idea, everybody in IV hates the cops whether they are good natured, moderately natured or otherwise. Inviting the police to your house can be a death wish, police are armed dangerous, snoopy and often trigger happy. Almost everybody in IV is peaceful and they don't want anything to do with the cops.

I have no idea why you would want start enforcing more laws that 98% of the students on and off campus break on an almost daily basis, which essentially punishes a student for having a single alcoholic beverage or having some marijuana on them. I knew students who graduated with honors in some of the best programs in the school who broke those laws consistently. Some of those students now have PhD's and you want to take that away from them??? What do students partying have to do with 3:30AM robbings and break-ins??? Again, that can happen in any town whether there is a street called Del Playa to party on or not.

I have advocated more CSO officers and less police officers, and I have advocated the CSO not enforce laws related to drinking, cannabis, noise ordinances but to focus on student safety.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 10:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

fine, more CSO officers, loon, You go off on a diatribe vs. the cops... I lived many years, and there WERE Foot Patrol officers there who got to know people, didn't bust guys like you toking a bit, but were alert to some of the pistol-toting jerks described in Cat's article. Stay on topic, eh?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 10:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

SBCC needs to stop aggressively recruiting out of town students to meet their budget numbers. SBCC doesn't need to serve more than 5000 students..

Instead SBCC plans grow well beyond its current 20,000 enrollment and now create two campuses. Enough is enough. Don't build it and they won't come, SBCC. There are plenty of good community colleges in the surrounding communities so these future students can stay home where they belong.

Where do SBCC's increasining student enrollment numbers live? IV of course. Local high school student populations are dropping so SBCC does not need to grow. Just the opposite. Chill out SBCC and get back to basics. Local basics for local students.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 11:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't mind the cops going around, as long as there aren't too many of them, and talking to students who want to talk to them in public - I just don't think they need to go around knocking on people's doors and harassing them in their home.

I knew quite a few students who got busted for some type of underage alcohol offense and even a few who got busted for cannabis. One of them was in his friend's living room, the side door was cracked open less than an inch and a cop came by through the alley and just barged in while they were all sitting around toking. My friend happened to have the bong in his hand when the cop walked in and he got busted. Stupid waste of time.

Police should respect private property, especially while there are ridiculous laws against cannabis and underage drinking for adults. They need private spaces to be able to engage in activities they wish to engage in without fear of the cops barging in. It would go a long ways toward restoring respect for law enforcement.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 11:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"How many of the students came from the Tri-Counties area (Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura Counties)?
70% of the students (21,615) came from the Tri-Counties; 20% from other counties in California (6,100); 4% out of state; and 6% international."

I doubt whether SBCC aggressively recruits any students. Students go to SBCC because it is a top college.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 11:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Who is talking about cops knocking on doors?? I think the idea of resident block shepherds is a great idea, a more mature peer providing a little guidance and responsibility before the big guns have to step in. Salary contingent on success at reducing existing disturbance level (tho that could turn into something like the Bush Leave Disadvantaged Children Behind NCLB school testing program).

And why lay the blame solely at UCSB's feet? SBCC has (I think) more students living in IV than UCSB, and does NOTHING to keep them accountable. And of course IV landlords should have to step up too--their rental values decrease (not to mention their units get trashed) the more irresponsibility and lawlessness reign in IV.

Some kind of cityhood that could involve locals in self-governance, pass IV-unique ordinances, and (oh yes) levy taxes to enforce them & improve conditions is also a great idea.

hmarcuse (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 12:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The chickens have come home to roost. Time to bring in the foxes.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 5:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Way back we tried to initiate self-government in IV and failed. In the 70s it was a mellow place, especially in the summer. Back then when people had 9 month leases, the landlords practically gave away the summer rentals and the place was nearly a ghost town in the summer. The IV foot patrol would stroll through town (one sheriff deputy and one UCSB police officer) and tell you to take your pot smoking inside. We would surf the wind swells at Sands all summer and our long hair, the decks of our surfboards, and the floors of our showers were covered in tar. We worked minimum wage jobs in the summer and it was enough to pay the summer rents. Since pot was the drug of choice, by 10:00 PM at night the place was dead, the residents all suffering couch-lock and listening to Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead. As I recall, there were very few SBCC students living there, even during the school year. We cannot return to those days, but something needs to be done to solve this problem. Perhaps we could give Cat's ideas a try, it can't get worse,

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 8:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

nice! when Eck writes, "We would surf the wind swells at Sands all summer and our long hair, the decks of our surfboards, and the floors of our showers were covered in tar. We worked minimum wage jobs in the summer and it was enough to pay the summer rents. Since pot was the drug of choice, by 10:00 PM at night the place was dead, the residents all suffering couch-lock and listening to Pink Floyd... " although my acid memories call up Neil Young, the James Gang and ...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 9:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yeah Dr. Dan, I remember Neil Young and the James Gang as well. How many times did we see Loggins and Messina and Jackson Browne at Rob Gym? Remember teepees in IV? How about the falafel stand? And all the beautiful, intelligent, witty women who might just sleep with you, or not, depending on their whim? Those were the days.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 9:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Baba Falafel RULED! The magic forest, September sunsets blanching down below the cliffs, $10 baggies of piss-poor weed, Jim Morrison jacking-off with a crotch-level red light at Rob Gym (1967)....yeah, it was grand in the day.
But I also remember heady idealism, absurd belief that "the revolution had come" -- the Soviets re-invading Czechoslovakia (no Velvet Revolution then!!), Red Danny and another Paris Commune, free speech movement...
Beyond fine nostalgia, my point is that however nutty, there was the elixir of higher goals in late 60s/70s and less of the intense debauchery all of us can see in current IV, ably delineated by Cat. The Empire is us, most are highly cynical, the young don't always want those "beautiful, intelligent, witty women [or men] who might just sleep with you, or not," they just wanna get ripped and f**k. Sigh.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 9:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Seems to me the dear 1970's had their share of murders in IV… over the July 4 weekend in 1970, then a couple more on the beach, and of course Jackie Rook, Mary Sarris, and Patty Laney in 1976-1977. I seem to recall murders & rapes in the 1960's too… circa 1964 there was a serial rapist who grabbed women on the footpaths between IV & the campus.

Memory is a tricky thing. The evil often fades and the good takes over. Keeps us sane in a way.

Seems to me all the IV publicity has brought a lot more crazies into town lately. Youtube videos & pictures of the gorgeous young women bring all kinds of men into IV who end up drunk & disappointed at 3:30am.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 10:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Isla Vista lost much of its calmer, mature, presence by the late-90s. Permanent residents, many of them living in IV since the late 60s and 70s, began to leave for Goleta and beyond. What's left are indigant Hispanics and a few has-beens on the West end. For those that packed their bags in the 90s, it wasn't the noise, partying, or transient students that caused them to leave. It was disgust at the "governance" parading as the IVRPD. They've done an even worse job since. Great memories but most of us that grew up there never want to step foot in IV again.

Simpleton (anonymous profile)
August 12, 2014 at 5:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

although my acid memories call up Neil Young, the James Gang and ...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 11, 2014 at 9:21 p.m

...Enrico Caruso.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
August 12, 2014 at 7:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

...Mama Cass partying on DP after a concert. There was plenty of heroin around then, too, and not only on Thai sticks. It's a different era; we have an organized global plan; the plan for the New Millenium involves simultaneous wars around the world, news that is 100% propaganda, a covert government that has turned the country into a police state, constant false front attacks, military aircraft dumping megatons of poison on people, and the intentional creation of a constant state of anxiety and hostility and us v them social disruption, accompanied by destruction of the US economy and diversion of resources to the top 1%.
I don't think violent crime in IV has changed much, particularly relative to changes outside of IV.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 12:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

IV was a chill place in the summer after 2000 as well, and it still is even though it is a little more crowded. Kids who live in IV love IV and that is all that really matters. I just recently asked a very pretty girl who was leaving back to the east coast after a summer in IV if she would come back and she said as soon as she has the money she would definitely come back to IV.. of all of the places in the entire world.

The problem is most of you here only hear the negative stuff and aren't involved in the community or the partying to see all of the great times and positive things that happen. There is still plenty of pot smoking, and there's always been debauchery and drinking.

Old people like Cat who never liked the partying atmosphere still complain about it and act like it is something new, that's never going to change. They will continue to place the blame on the kids and push for more regulations when it is the current strict regulations against the students that is causing most of the problems. Bring back the days of the keg party!! It's the easiest way to water down the alcohol in that town, get them swigging budlight by the gallon instead of vodka by the handle.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 1:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I think the typical Friday or Saturday night is way, way calmer now that at any point I can remember since 1960 or so.

Stereos just weren't very loud until the 1980's. And there were way, way more impromptu concerts in parks until 1980.

What is different now is just that way more non-local people hear about IV and they can get here. There were always a lot of transients in IV but visitors coming up for a day or two on Friday & Saturday have spiked.

pardallchewinggumspot (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

glad to learn from loon that "There is still plenty of pot smoking, and there's always been debauchery and drinking. Old people like Cat who never liked the partying atmosphere still complain..." Love your "nostalgia" back to 2000 BCE...but there are a lot more people, a lot more transients (see pardall), and more random crime and gratuitous violence...Thank you Cat for keeping the focus on these issues.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 7:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Overhearing students discussing college choices in Nor Cal, SBCC was mentioned. The reputation is as a "party / dropout" school, with the advantage that "it's easier to get into UCSB."

SBCC is not attracting students because of it's "high quality." It is attracting students for the wrong reasons, and therefor is attracting the wrong students. The only way to correct this would be to close the admissions back door to UCSB for SBCC students. This would have the advantage of increasing the quality of UCSB.

Unfortunately the TSA chief who now runs the UC has committed to do just the opposite.

random_kook (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 10:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Also, discussing college choices with parents of top notch students in LA. They took UCSB off the list because of IV's reputation, went with Stanford instead. It's not good, and will get worse under the leadership of the TSA which plans to cash in political capital in the UC system.

Oh, didn't you know that Homeland Security took over leadership of the UC system this past year?

Think about that for minute.

random_kook (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 10:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

lol, if SBCC is considered the top community college in the country, then it is very difficult to make the argument that they are attracting the "wrong type of student" and are just getting "party/dropouts". Sounds to me like they are attracting party/graduates.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 10:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

rk, Stanford would always have been chosen by parents over UCSB, it's basically an Ivy League school but not. If UCSB does not receive record applicants again this year, they will next year...unless they have another weird tragedy or something, but those seem to only happen once about every 13 years.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 10:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Aspen Institute does not rank community colleges. There is no national community college ranking system. Aspen only hands out self-serving publicity awards for their own leftist agenda.

The state Chancellor's office monitors California community college performance annually and SBCC overall is not ranked anywhere near the top according to the state's chosen peformance markers. Also SBCC ranks only number five in transfers to UC within the state as the LA Times recently published.

Accreditation is another agency that evaluates colleges and they recently put SBCC on accreditation warning. SBCC is no doubt a good college along with many other good community colleges.

But this leftist #1 Aspen nonsense needs to be put to rest and SBCC needs get back to serving only the local community. Building a half billion dollar palace on the hill to glorify this one time 2013 Aspen award is not part of the basics. It is cringe-worthy.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 10:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Party / dropout" are student's terminology. I think that bias comes from high school grads that were accepted into universities. Those that didn't get into a university probably cling to the ranking stories, especially when appealing to parents for funding.

Not only is SBCC attracting students that don't get accepted into universities, its attracting the wealthy among them.

random_kook (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 12:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What you don't see much of any more. A commentary on social change. (This was recorded in 1974, note the laid back audience)

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 4:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

event calendar sponsored by: