Giant sheets of butcher paper flutter in the wind and sport the magic marker creativity of college students eager to prove their politicking prowess. Around the palm trees at the entrance to Pardall Tunnel, tied to the posts of the fence on the 6600 block of Sueno, peeking out from behind windows all over Isla Vista – campaign signs currently cover every available inch of property in our little chunk of Santa Barbara County. There’s really no question about it: the candidates for 3rd District Supervisor are clearly courting the approximately 20,000 residents of Isla Vista, especially as the June 3 election nears.
But as nice as it is to have some different decorations to distract you while biking through I.V., none of the posters actually provide very much information about what the five potential supervisors – who would be responsible for the largest district in the county – plan to do in Isla Vista. Which is why I did a little research in an effort to come up with some specific information about what each of the supe hopefuls plan to stir up – or keep the same – in out little student ghetto. Here’s hoping this will inspire Isla Vistans to do more than just enjoy the pretty poster colors when it comes to this election. Even if we are graduating, and even if the election falls right in the middle of Dead Week, I think we owe it to the town that we’ve called home for the past four years to at least vote on June 3.
Dr. David Bearman has come out against development on the Gaviota Coast – an issue very important to environmentally-conscious I.V. voters – and he has said he wants to help the people who would potentially develop the Naples area to transfer their development rights to another area. Bearman also has experience with our unique area, having lived in I.V. for four years, helped to found the I.V. Clinic, and sat on its board for 25 years. On the more questionable side, he has worked with Zona Seca, the outpatient alcohol and drug treatment program that many Isla Vistans have had less than pleasant experiences with. But, he has also gone on the record saying that he wants to improve sidewalks and walkways in I.V., add more streetlights, and address both the noise ordinance and the relationship between the I.V. Foot Patrol and the students. He also endorsed Measure P, and supports the creation of safe places in I.V., where students can be housed pending sobriety without having to go to the main county jail.
Doreen Farr has the endorsement of popular local congresswoman Lois Capps and UCSB’s Campus Democrats. And sure, she has a bit of a Hillary haircut, but she has said she thinks the Board of Supervisors should be more concerned with tenants’ rights in I.V. – and anyone who has dealt directly with I.V.’s slumlords knows that is definitely true. While she does think the county should respect the development rights of property-owners in contested areas like Naples, she has said she wants to ensure that development occurs in the “least impactful” way possible. And she wants to crack down on Greka Oil – a good thing for those of us who work at the Nexus, since there are only so many ways you can say “Greka Spills Oil and Denies Responsibility” in a headline.
Steve Pappas has come out on the record in favor of property owners, “as long as they are conducting themselves responsibly and within the character of each individual community,” according to his website. Which is pretty ambiguous language for Isla Vistans who are fed up with living in a town where the ‘character of the community’ seems to be slumlord property owners who blatantly disrespect the very people from whom they make their profit from. And, while his desire to make sure that “the people of Isla Vista understand the contents of the Isla Vista Master Plan and are satisfied with its final outcome” is admirable, his plans for a UCSB Advisory Committee seem to be more focused on courting the favor of the administration than serving the students’ needs. A token student position on your Advisory Committee does not make up for a platform that, aside from a desire to make us all read and understand the Master Plan, does not begin to address Isla Vista’s unique issues. Sorry Steve.
Victoria Pointer, who got into the race a little bit later than the other candidates, is big on moderation – not the most popular attitude amongst us UCSBers. But she has said she is in favor of an ordinance forcing local landlords to provide more notice before evicting tenants. She was the only woman on the first Buellton City Council, and has done extensive work in special education, something that should endear her to students in general. Other than that though, not a lot of information is available about Pointer’s platform when it comes to I.V., something she might want to make a point of addressing before June 3 rolls around.
Finally, David Smyser has spent the last few years of his political career as – for lack of a better term – Brooks Firestone’s lackey. He was Planning Commissioner and Chief of Staff for the outgoing 3rd District Supervisor, and since Brooksie’s reign included crackdowns on I.V.’s Halloween celebration, his record of choosing big business over environmental concerns and his well-known waffling when it comes to tenants’ and students’ rights, that does not bode well for Smyser. Especially since he has said he plans to continue the work of his predecessor. He also got busted allegedly accepting donations from development interests – not a good sign for students who are in favor of the environment and against shady business dealings.
NOTE: The original version of this column referenced David Smyser with a term considerably harsher than “lackey” that the author considered to be typical of how students in Isla Vista might speak. This version of the column ran erroneously. This has since been corrected. The Independent regrets this error.