I came home from class, drenched in rare Santa Barbara rain because I had to make the twenty-minute walk across campus due to the bike paths being flooded — again. I made the mistake of wearing jeans and a sweatshirt to class, two clothing items that seem to take centuries to dry. I thought to myself, “something has to change.”
Rainy day experiences like these are what made me realize that action needs to be taken in order to protect and preserve infrastructure in the Isla Vista community and on the UC Santa Barbara campus. While thousands of people are attracted to Santa Barbara because of its mild and temperate climate, this 24/7 breezy weather is also accompanied by a large number of storms and heavy rainfall.
As a third-year Isla Vista resident, I have observed countless angry storms and the damage that they bring. During winter quarter in 2017, my dorm room got so much rain damage from a passing storm that our ceiling started peeling away. On top of that, the windows weren’t secure enough to keep out the heavy rain, causing my bed, which faced the window, to get drenched.
Flash forward to just two weeks ago when a storm rampaged Isla Vista for days. The bike paths were flooded once again, as they are every time rain hits. To top it off, I walked all the way home from class to see a sea-like puddle in the middle of my living room floor. Looking up, I saw my apartment ceiling sinking in, letting raindrops fall from outside into the comfort and warmth of my own home.
According to the Public Works Department, Santa Barbara storms have been hitting the community harder in recent years, and the amount of rainfall is on the rise. Both UCSB’s administration and the landlords of Isla Vista need to accommodate and adapt to the changing weather patterns in order for students to feel safe and secure in their “home away from home.”
Adjustments made to fix this problem don’t have to be drastic — in fact, they can be quite simple. For example, the university can allocate funding to repave the bike paths to promote better drainage, giving the water an area to collect instead of allowing rainfall to pool up in the middle of the lane. This quick fix would make transportation to and from class easier in times of rain, enabling students to feel more comfortable and motivated to go to class.
Outside of the university, the landlords of Isla Vista can also take yearly precautions that ensure that the homes of thousands of students are safe and durable during harsh weather. While asking landlords to completely reconstruct Isla Vista apartments is an understandably large burden, there are smaller solutions that would be almost as effective. A yearly maintenance check in between leases for water damage on ceilings and roofs would be more than adequate. On top of that, fixing any damage that they find would benefit residents immensely.
Every time rain hits Isla Vista I find myself worried not only about how I will get to and from class, but also whether my apartment will survive the storm without any damage. Due to the countless inconveniences of rain in Isla Vista, I urge on and off campus representatives to find a solution to these threatening problems.