February 6, 2023
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UCSB alone can’t fix Isla Vista safety woes


Just about a year ago, Elliott Rodger went on a violent rampage, killing six people and himself in Isla Vista.
Memories of that tragic Memorial Day weekend flooded back into the headlines on May 12 as reports surfaced of another shooting, this time two suspects shot and severely injured two students in another grisly incident in the neighborhood near UC Santa Barbara.

Sheriff’s Department officials described the incident as a possible drug deal gone awry and at press time two suspects, Jose Guadalupe Gutierrez, 19, and James Joshua Taylor, 22, were indicted on multiple charges. The victims were two UC Santa Barbara students, and after a campus lockdown that lasted a few hours, the campus was back to what has become a new normal for UCSB.

The sight of AMR ambulances again speeding to the hospital with victims of gun violence in Isla Vista sent another shock wave through the community. Santa Maria attorney Richard Martinez, who lost a son a year ago, said in a statement that the incident is “the worst kind of reminder” about how gun violence can happen at any time.

Our view is that this ugly episode should not derail efforts by UC Santa Barbara to invest in public safety improvements to Isla Vista. New rules for the Deltopia spring celebrations have kept incidents to a minimum. UCSB-funded fencing for the Isla Vista bluffs has improved public safety.
The out-of-control atmosphere that preceded last year’s rampage by Rodger, who was not a student, has been brought under a measure of control.

What has not yet happened at Isla Vista is a comprehensive agreement – by Santa Barbara County, UCSB, the City of Goleta and other stakeholders – on a more robust governance system for Isla Vista. The state has a role here, too, as Isla Vista remains the largest population center in California without local government oversight.
A panel put together by UCSB’s governing board of trustees made important recommendations last fall about the need for better governance at Isla Vista. Perhaps now that Isla Vista again is in the headlines, Santa Barbara County, the state Legislature and others will take a closer look.

The May 2015 incidents are a stark reminder that ignoring Isla Vista’s problems won’t make them go away. And it is also a heads up that UCSB alone can’t fix all of Isla Vista’s woes.

Important things are happening on the entrepreneurship front and it’s time for them to be recognized.
First, San Luis Obispo County has its first non-bank IPO in decades as Mindbody, a software developer for yoga and fitness clubs, gets ready to raise $100 million or more. Mindbody has become a bellwether for the emerging SLO County tech cluster.

Second, five area companies, including two from Westlake Village, one each from Ventura and SLO, and venerable Pacifica Hotel Group from Santa Barbara are finalists in this year’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition. That’s a very good sign.

Finally, the Camarillo Chamber has launched a promising Business Development Board that aims to connect startup CEOs with executives from established organizations in the area.
Our takeaway is that the Central Coast is on the rise when it comes to enterprise development and fostering new companies. But there is a lot more work to be done before we get the full recognition we deserve.