Isla Vista, California

Isla Vista is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Santa Barbara County, California in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the CDP had a population of 23,096; the majority of residents are college students at nearby University of California, Santa Barbara or at Santa Barbara City College. The beachside community lies on a flat plateau about 30 feet in elevation, separated from the beach by a bluff. Isla Vista enjoys a Mediterranean climate and has less precipitation than either Santa Barbara or the adjacent community of Goleta. Isla Vista is located on a south-facing portion of the Santa Barbara County coast, between Coal Oil Point and Campus Point in view of the Channel Islands. During El Niño years, precipitation in Isla Vista can be excessive and dangerous; some homes and apartments built on the south side of Del Playa Drive, most popular with students due to their direct ocean views, are in danger of collapse, since they are built on quickly-eroding bluffs thirty to sixty feet above the Pacific Ocean.

Recent erosion has exposed foundation supports in several of the properties closest to the university campus, UCSB. As Isla Vista is on the south coast of Santa Barbara County, which has some of the highest housing prices in the United States, the student population shares densely packed housing with a working class Hispanic population. Since Isla Vista has not been annexed by either Goleta or Santa Barbara, remaining unincorporated, only county funds are available for civic projects. Isla Vista is home to a student housing cooperative, the Santa Barbara Student Housing Coop, as well as a food cooperative, the Isla Vista Food Co-op; the earliest human occupants of Isla Vista were their forebears. They called the Isla Vista mesa Anisq'oyo and had permanent settlements near Cheadle Hall and the 217 entrance on the UCSB Campus; the Franciscan Fathers encouraged the Chumash to remove to the Santa Barbara Mission. The Isla Vista mesa was part of the Mexican land grant Rancho Dos Pueblos made in 1842 to Nicolas A. Den.

Den's son, Alfonso Den, inherited the land. He and some of his nine siblings were plaintiffs in a famous lawsuit. San Francisco lawyer Thomas B. Bishop sued Hollister on behalf of the Den children in 1876, won the case in 1885. Bishop took much of the prime land owned by the Den children as a legal fee, to this day some of that land, in the city of Goleta near Glen Annie Road, is called the Bishop Ranch; the least attractive land was left to the Den children, that included the Rincon Ranch, at that time the name of the entire Isla Vista mesa, from present-day UCSB west to Coal Oil Point. The Rincon is the corner; the Rincon Ranch had little fresh water, was marginal for agriculture, was split between three of the Den children: Augusto Den, who had mental disabilities, got the land that now forms the UCSB Main Campus and Alfonso got the land, now Isla Vista. A portion of Alfonso Den's land was purchased for $100 in gold by John and Pauline Ilharreguy, residents of Fillmore in 1915; the Ilharreguys arranged in 1925 the subdivision of the central tract they named Isla Vista, laid out and named the four streets closest to the bluff: Del Playa, Sabado Tarde and Pasado.

The tract between Isla Vista and today's UCSB campus, owned by two Santa Barbara attorneys and partners Alfred W. Robertson and James R. Thompson, was subdivided and named Ocean Terrace in 1926; the third tract that comprises today's Isla Vista, Orilla Del Mar, to the west of the Isla Vista tract, was owned by two Santa Barbara sisters and Brenda Moody, was subdivided in 1926. The Isla Vista subdivisions are the earliest urban subdivisions performed in the Goleta Valley in the 20th century; the narrow streets of Isla Vista are characteristic of 1920s land planning. Plans for water, road building, sewage were not made in the 1920s; some of the speculation was related to ocean-front real estate, but an important motive was the likelihood of oil reserves' being accessible from Isla Vista property. To aid speculation, the lots in the subdivision were narrow, mineral rights were pooled among blocks of lots; some oil was found, but the wells did not sustain oil production, unlike the productive Ellwood Oil Field just to the west of Isla Vista.

Royalties from the Ellwood field paid for a large portion of the costs of construction of Santa Barbara County's famed courthouse. An oil deposit about one mile south of Isla Vista under the Santa Barbara Channel, known as the South Ellwood field, was found, but has never been developed, due to local political opposition after the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill; the South Ellwood field contains upward of 100 million barrels of oil, attempts by ARCO and by Mobil to develop the field have been rebuffed by local opposition. Though the Isla Vista lots were sold to several hundred

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