As I biked down Pardall Road on a sunny afternoon this weekend, I marveled at the palm trees, the smiling faces enjoying life outside the restaurants, and the sparkly, brand-spanking new pavement.

By golly, they actually did it. Pardall Road actually saw almost all the improvements the County it would receive: more trees, widened sidewalks, the works. (Though that troublesome puddle outside Silvergreens seems to be lingering.) Our new downtown looks fabulous – almost like something straight out of a movie. Bring in some cameras and lights and you’ve got the set for the next cliche college flick.

Nicki Arnold
Paul Wellman

The road improvements rang in at a grand total of $2.7 million. The nine months of construction not only caused headaches for bikers trying to get to class and drinkers trying to get around The Loop, but was also blamed by some for the demise of Mr. Pickle’s sandwich shop and Caliroll Express.

The big question is, was it worth the time, money, and effort? Do we four-year tourists really deserve the county’s money, resources, and time?

Yes. Even in the wake of Floatopia, in light of Halloween, and in spite of the general party-hardy attitude, I’d say yes a thousand times over.

“Why, Nicki? Everyone who lives there just treats I.V. like a toilet anyway. You’re all spoiled brats and you’re just going to take all of this for granted, just like you do everything else. Why put money toward making a trash hole of a community look pretty?”

First, we’re not all spoiled brats. That’s very rude to generalize and stereotype.

And, more importantly, we do deserve a little money, and I.V. does deserve this sprucing up. If you make the town a place that people want to live by cleaning it up and at least giving it a pretty face, people will be proud of it and want to keep it shining. If people move into a spotless (er, close to that, anyway) I.V., they’ll have more incentives to keep it that way.

I.V. has been a craphole forever, so people don’t care about keeping the place looking nice. I hear this logic echoed almost every day:

“Whatever. It’s just I.V.”

Indifference toward I.V. isn’t just a symptom of college kid apathy, either. We’ve been so used to living in a dirty version of I.V. that we think this is just how it’s supposed to be. But why is that? Why have we so routinely, for so long, taken the shaft from the county? We deserve better.

Oh, don’t talk to me about how we don’t do anything but waste County money on things like Floatopia and Halloween and bring the County a bad reputation. I could make the monetary argument and say how much businesses make from our revenue. I could argue about how having a world-renowned university brings the County prestige.

But, more than that, you can’t treat an entire group of people with little to no respect just because of location. You can’t look at us and say we don’t deserve money because we chose to live in I.V.

So thank you, Santa Barbara County, for taking a chance on us and making I.V. a more respectable place to live. The Pardall improvements don’t “ruin the culture” at all. They give us a reason to pick up our cans, to shun people who think it’s okay to tag the whole place because it’s “just I.V.,” and to reprimand the locals who embody that “four-year tourist” mentality and treat the place like a hotel room to be cleaned up by the maids after they check out.

There’s still a lot of work to be done until I.V. is a fabulous place to live. (I should interject here because I don’t want to be misunderstood: I absolutely adore living here and I think it’s the best place I’ll ever call home. That said, there are still plenty of problems.) Some of the landlords really need a lesson in how to respect their tenants. The parking situation is still impossibly bad. It’s fairly ridiculous that I can’t get a drink after midnight in this town.

But these aesthetic improvements are a wonderful start. If we can make I.V. a nice, respectable place to live, we’ll fill it with nice, respectable people who still know how to throw a wonderfully and awesomely wild party.


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