Q&A with Beatrice Contreras, OPP Candidate for External Vice President of Local Affairs


Interview by Marissa Perez, Advertising Director

How does the work of the EVPLA affect the student population, i.e., what should students know about the EVPLA, what does the EVPLA do on their behalf, etc.?

The EVPLA is the official representative of UCSB to Isla Vista and the greater Santa Barbara area. The office provides a lot of resources to students, like hydration stations during Halloween and the new Isla Vista concert series in Anisq’oyo’ Park. It’s also one of the few representatives of Isla Vista, given that it is an unincorporated community and only has one decisionmaking body, the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks Board.

What are the biggest issues that the EVPLA faces next year and how do you plan to solve them?

One important issue the EVPLA must tackle next year is community safety. Between the events of Deltopia, the sexual assaults during winter quarter and similar activities, there have been concerns about how safe Isla Vista is. My first plan is to create a police advisory board, so that we can have the many stakeholders of our community discuss what the laws are, what our community policing priorities are and how we can hold each other accountable, in order to create a collaborative dialogue. Additionally, I’ll work to develop more resources by expanding UCSB CARE’s services into Isla Vista and securing more funding for infrastructure improvements like more lighting and fixing potholes and cracks on the street.

Additionally, the EVPLA is faced with the issue of addressing tenant’s rights, as it always has been. Especially with new developments like The Nest, it’s important for the EVPLA to be present at County meetings about these new developments. Not only will I attend those meetings, but I will actively work to make a revised Isla Vista Master Plan. I already passed a resolution in support of reenvisioning the Master Plan during week 1, and intend to move forward with making sure there is more student and non-student community input. This Master Plan is intended to guide the development of our community, but it had very little student involvement, was never approved by the California Coastal Commission and makes a number of references to agencies and organizations that no longer exist. The reason that so many high-level mixed-use developments are appearing is because the Master Plan calls for such buildings, but they are unaffordable and may price out lower-income students and families. By revising the Master Plan, we can help solve the root of the problem. Furthermore, the County currently does not proactively inspect houses—the balcony that fell on Del Playa Drive last year had termite rotting for five years, but nothing was done about it. I’ll urge the County to develop a system of house and apartment inspection so that such damages don’t happen again.

Overall, these issues represent a stronger theme: representation. Students and the rest of the community are not well-represented. While the EVPLA is tasked with being such a representative, it’s also important that they work to amplify student voices. To that effect, I’ll institute quarterly lobby visits with local elected officials so we can explain what our unique needs are, find out what progress is being made and hold each other accountable. We had a lobby visit this year, but it only happened once and had a limited number of students; by making them more frequent and inviting more students, we can get more students involved and lend a diverse perspective when lobbying. I’ll work with organizations like the Office of Student Life and the Residence Halls Association to find such students and make sure that they are given the educational tools to lobby effectively.

What do you feel are your strongest personal or professional qualifications for this position?

I have not just projects and plans, but knowledge of the inner workings of the office, and strong relationships with stakeholders in Isla Vista. I’ve been involved with Isla Vista for nearly three years, but the bulk of my work is from this year. As a current Off-Campus Senator I’ve lobbied the Board of Supervisors, gone to their meetings and worked on issues like saving the two last public properties in Isla Vista and fighting to prevent service cuts to SB MTD bus lines. I know the key players to get things done in the County and exactly how to execute the projects I’ve planned. I also know how Associated Students works in relation to the office: which staff should be doing certain jobs, what organizations in AS should be collaborating with them and how to interact with UCSB administration.

What is one of the things you most hope to accomplish as EVPLA?

In the past, the office has had a strong emphasis on projects and programming. Although that work is valuable, the office has really shifted its focus this year and become much more politically active. I hope to engage more students—especially those not actively involved in Associated Students—by bringing them to more of these meetings, allowing them to make the connections I have and giving them their own voice. I want to make sure that we as an office are creating a legacy that has a long-term impact on Isla Vista, instead of just small projects that get lost throughout the years.

Why do you want to be EVPLA?

It’s important for students to have a voice and take ownership of the community in which they live. I’ve witnessed just how much power students have, and we have a unique opportunity to show the community all the amazing things that Isla Vista has to offer. I want to ensure that students have a voice and are involved in decision making on a local level.

Photo Courtesy of AS Elections Commitee