Santa Barbara County’s 3rd District Supervisor is swatting at Isla Vista’s long-festering transient influx by building 20 tiny homes, less than six feet apart, for 40 people in downtown Anisq’Oyo’ Park. The six-month temporary housing falls short of accommodating the adjacent 80-plus encampment.
Taxpayers informed Joan Hartmann about growing transient camps in February — pre-COVID — and she is only now responding as winter and the virus set in. With $900,000 in “use it or lose it” COVID funds, Hartmann hastily co-opted Isla Vista’s Community Center as her “Town Hall” alongside a parking lot owned by our Recreation and Park District.
Isla Vista parks are an eternal magnet for transients with documented drug and alcohol problems. Over the spring and summer conditions got so bad that park “regulars” were afraid; in August one such individual was severely beaten in the park and later died of a drug overdose. Yards away, UCSB’s Bank of America lecture hall houses an Alcohol and Drug office — closed, as are the school’s empty dorms, to those outside the ivory tower.
Isla Vista already accommodates homeless. In 2015 the Housing Authority completed the $10 million Pescadero Lofts, an apartment building for at least 35 people. Two blocks from Anisq’Oyo’ with a parking lot in the rear, this would seem a far better overflow option than erecting a downtown village surrounded by liquor stores.
Isla Vista’s Community Services District (CSD), a governing entity sustained by a tax on our utilities, unanimously supports “our houseless neighbors” over the interests of taxpayers. Supposedly providing “self-governance” this facile entity is a county puppet, doubling our taxes and continuing the timeworn practice of using I.V. as a dump.
Isla Vista is already struggling with basic COVID protocols. Building transient tiny homes right smack in the middle of this densely populated square mile is ill-advised, unsafe, and unhealthy — by the county’s own standards — especially with our community entering the darkest hours of the pandemic.