The entrance to Isla Vista on Los Carneros Road

Here’s an opportunity for someone in the Isla Vista community to bring about change in the area. The Isla Vista Recreation and Park District announced recently that one of its board positions is open, and the district is looking for applicants for this interim position. Over the years, quite a few local, and vocal, long-term residents have decided to take on this task in the hopes that they can bring their vision of I.V. to fruition.

Former board member Katie Kasatkina resigned, thereby leaving a position available. The IVRPD will choose a replacement that will serve on the board until the next general election in November. Remaining board members include Bruce Murdock, Liz Buda, Leif Dreizler, and Roger Lagerquist.

Cat Neushul

Just like everything else about Isla Vista, the governing board is, well, a little different. It is made up of students and long-term local residents. Attending a board meeting can be quite interesting since the members aren’t career politicians and they have quite a variety of world views. The discussions are animated and sometimes heated.

It is always very interesting to see who is chosen each time potential board members are put on the ballot. Since most of the voters are students, who may or may not be familiar with the IVRPD and what it does, the person who wins may not be the one who knows the most about the area. Certainly, getting appointed to serve as an interim boardmember is no guarantee you will be elected in November.

The IVRPD board meets in a small office on Embarcadero del Mar, right in front of the I.V. Free Box. While it may be an unprepossessing location, decisions are made there that determine the future of I.V.

Improvements, such as the renovation of Estero Park, are discussed and ironed out in the IVRPD board room. Discussion of a permanent skate park, as well as the temporary one located on the loop in downtown I.V., is a recurring item on the agenda. And, of course, the board makes decisions on how to use residents’ tax money to fund improvements in I.V.

In some cases the IVRPD faces tough decisions involving current trends like the Occupy I.V. Movement that set up shop in Perfect Park. Organizers spoke before the board asking for permission to use the park as a meeting zone and as a place to display their signs and messages. They wanted more leeway as to how they used the park.

The board also has to make decisions involving the homeless that camp in the area. After some young women told the board they were afraid to walk through certain I.V. parks at night, IVRPD representatives embarked on a campaign to renovate these areas. They set up lights and cut down vegetation to make it difficult for people to hide or set up camp.

While it may not seem like a glamorous position, since the work of the IVRPD goes relatively unsung, the I.V. parks are a testament to the board’s interest in making the area a more beautiful place. The board also sets the tone for community-based efforts like the skate park. Little by little, IVRPD boardmembers are working to make Isla Vista a better place to live — one street, and one park, at a time.

Applications are being accepted through 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 1.


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