Let me begin by saying thank you to the Santa Barbara Independent for the recent coverage of the tent city situation in the Isla Vista parks. While informative, it missed a few aspects that should be brought up.
The biggest question to ask is why has this come to be in I.V.? As a 33-year resident of Isla Vista, I may have some views that others outside the community don’t see.
I ride my bike to work quite regularly, usually leaving around 9 a.m., on a route that takes me up Embarcadero Del Mar to El Colegio. That’s when I see the budding tent city residents marching down the street toward Anisq Oyo Park with their belongings, ready to stake a claim. Where are they coming from? I get my answer when I get to the bus stop on El Colegio, I see them, two or three at a time, stepping off the MTD bus from Santa Barbara.
They’re all from places outside of the county, even the state of California, so, who’s telling them to come to I.V.? That question opens a can of worms that could take up the majority of this scribble, but let’s get to the point. The County of Santa Barbara has always used I.V. as a dumping ground. Why?
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has some interesting beliefs about Isla Vista. They believe that no one uses the parks and no one will care about this situation. False! We care that parks once used by local families are now toxic dumps on a number of levels. They believe it’s just students living here. False! There’s families and many others who are not students. We’re residents! Besides, even if it were “only students,” they’re tax-paying residents, too!
County officials don’t see us as residents or care that we even exist. They never have. We pay taxes, we obey the laws, we even contribute to the community, yet, county officials allow for a fiasco of the magnitude we’re seeing in various areas of I.V. to happen, unchecked.
The Isla Vista Parks and Recreation District has their hands tied by budget and legislation, and law enforcement can only respond when things get out of hand in the encampments, but can do very little for numerous reasons.
It’s amusing how the county officials claim to care about the individuals that make up the tent city, but that’s as long as those individuals aren’t setting up camp outside their front door or in their alley.
Everything said by the county officials amounts to nothing more than lip service to appease certain elements of Santa Barbara County and in the process of appeasement, I.V. is used the place to dump their problems. However, come election time, the county officials plead for our votes and we, as I.V. residents, keep voting them in to continue their policy of sticking it to I.V.
Now it’s “do or die” time. The S.B. County Fire Marshal has declared the encampments a fire hazard that not only threaten the tent dwellers, but local residents and businesses as well. What are county officials going to do now that their own public safety branch has spoken on the matter? The next few weeks are going to be very telling.
I’ve avoided I.V. politics for quite some time now and one of the reasons is that county officials see I.V. as a lesser species which only counts during election time. Still holds true to this day.
Meanwhile, in the affected I.V. parks and the areas nearby, crime such as theft, shoplifting, and assault have gone up. Regular I.V. residents sometimes get threats when simply walking through the parks. The syringes and glass from crack and meth pipes litter the place. All kinds of random furnishings from stripped-down bike frames to broken vacuum cleaners litter the park grounds. Let’s not even go into the stench of human excrement that floats from the parks being lived in. And yet, the exodus into town continues, as if promoted, encouraged, and sponsored by the county officials. Enough is enough.
Call me insensitive about the “plight of the homeless” if you want. It’s your right. And personally, I don’t care. I’m done caring. What about the plight of hard working I.V. residents not able to enjoy what they pay taxes for? Oh, that’s right, they don’t matter because the county supervisors have deemed it so and besides, come next election, I.V. residents will vote to fill in the spot with the candidate that’ll promise whatever I.V. residents want to hear, which usually amounts to empty promises.
But one thing will remain certain at the end of the day and that is, from the looks of the so-called “progress” on the matter, nothing will change. Welcome to Isla Vista, the dumping ground of Santa Barbara County.