An Unincorporated Historic Neighborhood Gets it Place on the Internet
January 24, 2015 2:13 PM   Subscribe

Isla Vista LocalWiki From the description in mefi projects: Isla Vista has a lot of interesting characteristics that make it a good subject for a community writing project: it's an unusually walkable place with many local institutions and traditions, and it's an unincorporated quasi-town with a complex relationship with the university and the county. But one part that I find really appealing is that this is a relatively unexplored topic...

According to the Wiki: In about 1967-69 and 1972-73, Fuller hung out around UCSB a bit. He popularized the concept of geodesic dome houses. This local one was built in 72-73.
posted by Michele in California (10 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I've spent a lot of time in Isla Vista. It's a very, very strange place. I was once told that it was the densest population west of the Mississippi. While I'm not sure of the veracity of that claim, you'd certainly never guess it was even a possibility given there isn't a house over two stories anywhere...then you realize most of the garages are even housing a few people.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:20 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, but can you still find strupo there?
posted by darkstar at 2:58 PM on January 24, 2015

I did my PhD at UCSB and I only went to IV when I was a TA for a class in the large lecture hall over there, occasionally as an option to get lunch, and once to another grad student's apartment.
Students would describe 3 bedroom apartments with 12 people in them.
It is so weird there - it is like there are no laws.
posted by k8t at 2:59 PM on January 24, 2015

Aw geez, I thought for a second this was about Wistful Vista. "T'ain't funny, McGee."
posted by kinnakeet at 3:20 PM on January 24, 2015

Isla Vista is a strange and wonderful place. When I ran some research out at UCSB, I lived with a dear friend who had spent his formative college years jumping skateboards over burning couches in the streets of IV. Not only 12 people in a 3 bedroom apartment, but 5 or 6 cars to a dwelling. Halloween used to be the go-to party, a night when the population swelled immensely and the nuttery increased. The State Police started cracking down pretty hard on it a few years ago, shutting down roads and requiring proof of residence.

It's especially strange because in amongst the student population are some retirees and a few families. It is an ideal location for a community writing project.
posted by onetime dormouse at 3:50 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Halloween used to be the go-to party, a night when the population swelled immensely and the nuttery increased. The State Police started cracking down pretty hard on it a few years ago,.

They cracked down on it in 1994-ish when the guy fell off the cliff. Did they reinstate it ever? We used to drive up there from LA in high school. It was a hell of a party.

Friends of mine lived in those party houses for years, I dont know how they stayed sane.
posted by fshgrl at 3:53 PM on January 24, 2015

Aw, thank you for posting this and indulging me in my "Area Man Way Too Into Local County History" project. I've been having too much fun with this over the past couple months, and last week I was visiting Isla Vista gathering a lot of stories and photos to add to it, especially from people who have lived there for the past 30 years. It's great to meet them, since as a student I didn't get a chance to talk to them other than one of my professors (few faculty live in IV).

I was talking to one long-time resident, a teacher who owns a small apartment building with her husband and has lived there on Abrego Road since the 80s, and she showed me a folder of newspaper clippings from 1999 about illegally divided units with too many residents. Hasn't really changed since then, and it's a problem partly because that means the property owners aren't paying the appropriate amount of taxes for their buildings. IV often has to struggle to get the county to pay attention to problems & to pay money for things as basic as fixing street lights.

But after the riot in April and the mass shooting in May, people gathered in concern & mourning and started talking to each other more, both students and long-time residents, and realized that a surprising number of people care about this place and want to make it better in general. The university also really wants IV to change - IV's reputation discourages some people from attending UCSB.

So IV is currently in the middle of a lot of discussions and meetings about potential forms of self-governance (mostly covered in recent Nexus articles about IV) - maybe a community services district, maybe a city, maybe something else - and a close friend who still lives in the area is very involved in this. I went to one of these meetings and it was fascinating - even figuring out a decision-making process for such a complicated place is hard.

There are so many things to write about! The wiki also has a collection of articles about local folklore (the albino raccoons, the rancho house, the bootlegger tunnel), and I should write about that "densest population" legend - it's dense for Santa Barbara County but nothing compared to San Francisco, for example.

Halloween waxes and wanes. It got even bigger in the late 90s and early 00s, and it was a somewhat big deal in the past few years, but this last year, the county and UCSB cracked down really really hard (and it was raining) so it was nearly a non-event. That helped put a couple restaurants in IV out of business - my understanding is that Halloween has historically helped them balance out the lack of revenue over winter break. (A few years ago, the Nexus had a couple of articles about Halloween over the years - 60s-80s, 90s-00s.)

Anyway, I would totally encourage people who have lived there to poke around and add a few sentences or start a new article if something catches your eye, or maybe memail me some stories or photos that might be fun to include.
posted by dreamyshade at 4:51 PM on January 24, 2015 [6 favorites]

IV has its own elementary school, part of the larger Goleta school District, and it seems to be mostly children of people in student family housing. But I've heard interesting stories about it being an innovative place.
posted by k8t at 6:09 PM on January 24, 2015

Local Wiki is an awesome and growing resource. It started in Davis with, where it is the go-to for basic information related to the city of Davis. I encourage y'all to start or contribute to the local wiki in your region.
posted by aniola at 11:54 PM on January 24, 2015

Awesome news! Local Wiki is out of beta and officially launched!
posted by aniola at 12:37 AM on January 27, 2015

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