Inside San Clemente: A Resident’s Perspective
by Dawn Marie Howell


The San Clemente Apartments do not give off any particular vibe. They don’t yet look like the adobe-colored paradise that the online sketches advertise, nor do they look rag-tag and incomplete. From the battlement style towers, they look like a kind of military fortification; a small hideout from the chaos of Isla Vista. Living in the complex, it doesn’t feel as though you are in IV, Goleta, on campus or really anywhere at all. It is a tentative sort of space, one which is still in the process of carving out its own niche.

When I received my packet for move-in, the handout subtly told me that I’d be moving into a “community in progress.” With dirt all around the apartments and the behemoth tractors that grind away from seven in the morning until sundown, I am constantly reminded of this clever euphemism. Weeds pop up in the dirt patches where grass will one day be and the courtyards that are squished between villages sing of the possibility of beauty, but remain dull like the stucco on the side of the buildings. Many residents, myself included, have brought potted plants to compensate for the lack of color of the area. According to the resident coordinators, the apartment’s version of an RA, we shouldn’t expect grass until November.

There are also a share of small annoyances that bother most residents. Cell phone reception in the complex is damn near archaic. If I am on the phone in the living room and move to the kitchen, my call usually gets dropped. Most of the time I have to stay on my bed in order to maintain signal. Many people can only talk on their patios. Other complaints include the amplification of sound through the halls. Without landscaping, there is nothing to absorb the noise and therefore any noise reverberates quite strongly. Drain-pipes also proved to be quite noisy during last week’s brief bout of rain. And the mail: slower than Christmas. It took me two weeks to receive my registration sticker when I ordered it on move-in day.

However, despite its unattractive qualities, there are plenty of good things to be said for this “community in progress.” The complex offers a large parking structure for its residents and several auxiliary lots for visitors and construction workers. As for the apartments themselves, my friend Jen perhaps said it best: “DM, your place is a frickin’ mansion.”

Much like San Rafael Hall, there are various numbers of people living in each apartment, ranging from four bedrooms to one. Regardless, each person has a room to call his or her own. The bedrooms even come equipped with a double bed and a huge closet space. Outside the rooms, the living room and dining area offer plenty of breathing room. The kitchen is just large enough to accommodate four people’s cooking materials but gets a little cramped during dinner time. Still, the overall feeling is comfy and homey.

The bathrooms are spacious and provide enough room for two people to comfortably store toiletries. All of the toilets are equipped with two modes flushing, one for liquid waste and the other for more solid waste, in order to save water. Other green features of the apartments include an all-in-one recycling system: all trash gets placed in recycling bins where they are later sifted through for recyclable materials. It works to streamline the system quite a bit.

For the most part, the rooms are well insulated and quiet if the windows are closed. The internet and other utilities work very efficiently. Though it sometimes feels isolating, it is a good community to live in and one that will likely get better as it goes. I’m just happy to finally have a place where a potted plant can thrive and where I can finally work on being a better cook. I wouldn’t go back to the dorms if they paid me to. This place is a small paradise in progress, to be sure.