Daily Nexus, September 29, 1975
This commentary by Lorie Bacon, Director of the Isla Vista Planning Commission, is one of a series of articles that will appear this week. Each comment will deal with the effect of the rising University enrollment on such subjects as housing in Isla Vista, impact on the County of Santa Barbara, and the view of the UCSB administration. The purpose of this is to help explain the problems surrounding the current enrollment increases.
This year , Isla Vista and adjacent communities have witnessed an increase in enrollment at the UCSB campus. Anticipated enrollment for this year is 14,079 — this may fluctuate throughout the year, however, this figure is only a projection for fall and possibly may not reflect a real figure. There could be 15,000 students on campus this fall quarter (although this is not likely) as it all depends on whether or not students have chosen to attend this particular campus.
How have South Coast communities reacted to this increase? They have not all been silent, and why? There presently exists a severe low-income housing shortage in Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Isla Vista. Each year, these communities must anticipate that a percentage of UCSB students may choose to live in one of these three areas. Present trends indicate that 50 percent of the enrollment is housed in Isla Vista primarily because of its proximity to the campus, and the fact that it is a college community.
As I cannot respond in a factual fashion for other communities, I will limit the remainder of this article to Isla Vista, and the problems it now faces with housing more than 7,000 students in addition to 6-7,000 non-students.
In 1972, 80 percent of Isla Vista’s population was students; this figure has dropped to 50 percent. More and more non-students have chosen to live in I.V. for a multitude of reasons. In 1973, UCSB’s enrollment began to increase, bringing it up to the present level. This has created a problem in terms of providing adequate housing for those people in addition to the non-student population. We cannot anticipate any construction in the near future as the present water moratorium created restriction on all future building (although the UCSB Environmental Impact Report calls for 2-300 additional bedspaces in Isla Vista to accommodate the increase).
Two People Per Bedroom
The University has attempted to deal with this problem by opening up what is known as Francisco Torres (essentially an off-campus dorm). They are presently booked, filled, and have a substantial waiting list — it houses 1,000 people. The rental companies (i.e., Rentals Etc., IPM, Embarcadero, etc.) cannot be too concerned as their housing is guaranteed to be rented. Interestingly enough, apartments are now listed as per person per apartment, rather than bedrooms per apartment (usually two per bedroom). Apparently, the companies acknowledge crowded conditions by encouraging them. Unfortunately, this has become a necessity of the situation.
The situation, perhaps, may warrant such an approach to the problem, but a basic question must still be addressed. Are these healthy and desirable living conditions for people? A population specialist visited I.V. in 1970, and stated that conditions were below health standards, and were not improving. Five years later, the enrollment has increased substantially, and most assuredly conditions have worsened. Regrettably, students are not considered people; they are more tolerant of poor living conditions.
In the school year 1974-75, the vacancy factor in Isla Vista was five percent (this indicates that Isla Vista was at full capacity, as one must consider transiency factor — in other words, five percent of the people were moving around, and as they moved their apartment or home was considered vacant). If Isla Vista was full last year, what can we expect this year? As of July 30 there were 300 vacant bedspaces in Isla Vista, including Francisco Torres. We can assume that many students had not the opportunity to make arrangements for housing at that time.
How do the non-students feel? They were not a consideration when the University decided to increase its enrollment. We do not know whether more non-students chose to reside in I.V. this year than last. Students, in most cases, can afford to pay for basic living necessities — they have an assured income — as non-students do not. Therefore, in an instance when competition becomes a factor, the student is more likely to get the apartment than the non-student. Is this desirable? The 1970 Trow Report (written and paid for by the University subsequent to the I.V. riots) advocates a diversity of population. The present level (50-50) is a reflection of a diversity — what can we expect in upcoming years.
The problem exists — that is fact. The solution is obvious, but multi-faceted. We can build more apartments in an extremely densely populated I.V., non-students can be forced to vacate the area, or the University can stop growing.