Master Plan Threatens The Spirit Of Isla Vista
by Jake Haskell


You just got out of a seven o’clock section for another random class. You’re starving because you’ve been on campus since eight am, and you have an eight page paper due the next day that you have yet to start. In other words, life is not at its zenith. Now imagine yourself walking, biking, or pushing your long board through the Pardall Tunnel. It’s spring quarter, so the sun is setting behind IV; as you raise your head you are greeted with palm trees set in front of pink, orange, and purple skies all hovering above the quiet buzz of the loop. Life just got a little better, right?

After a day full of textbooks, blue books, and terrible TAs I take comfort in returning to my relatively simple beach town each night. I like that I don’t have to return to a busy downtown area filled with shoppers and diners.

The IV Master Plan hopes to change all that. The plan will attempt to turn Pardall into Isla Vista’s version of State Street. The plan calls for remodeling buildings on the street to include second and third stories that would be the focal point of a centered commercial zone in Isla Vista. Not only do they want to build up the skyline, but they also want to create an outdoor shopping area that would be similar to the Paseo Nuevo in downtown Santa Barbara.

This all makes me wonder, what stores will be added to the town? To create an influx of retail store seems ridiculous; do we really need an even more convenient way to buy a load of useless junk? Students will either be blowing their meager paychecks or their parents’ savings. Along with the additions to the road, the plan calls for the creation of a more unified ‘look’ to the town, again a la State Street. I certainly do not need a bunch of cookie cutter stucco buildings that look exactly like the ones downtown in Santa Barbara. I prefer the sight of random storefronts greeting me around Isla Vista. Do we really want to conform to the likes of “Any-Town USA,” just for the viability of businesses?

The plan does have important points on its agenda like alleviating traffic and improving the parks, but the downtown sector of the plan seems to be a product of greed alone. Who will shop at all of these new stores? If city planners are hoping to draw from the larger Goleta area for consumers I want no part of it. I happen to enjoy always being able to go anywhere in IV without much hassle, I certainly don’t want teen shoppers heading from Goleta to IV to hang out. I came to school here because I wanted a unique living experience, not to get caught in a watered down version of downtown Santa Barbara. It may seem to late to stop it, the plan has already been ratified, but community support has already forced city planners to rethink their plan to remove the palm trees around Freebirds. So think about the kind of community you want to live in, and then do something about it. I don’t want to live in a community built upon commercial interests, but rather a community that celebrates our differences and focuses on unity.