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Isla Vista swells by thousands with 2022 school year  population arriving

ISLA VISTA, Calif. - The Isla Vista population is growing this week by thousands with the arrival of students for the new school year.

That will mean a bustling scene for housing, restaurants and retail businesses.

The influx of residents is expected to grow by over 10,000 and could be twice that much depending on the number of students who are living and studying in this normally very crowded community next to UC Santa Barbara.

Already many units have been filled by Santa Barbara City College students who moved in for the start of their schedule last month.

Housing has been a critical issue in Isla Vista in the past year. Some students were living in hotel rooms due to the shortage of rooms around the university. So far, this year that has not been the case.

For students looking for resources, there are many areas of assistance.  They include the Isla Vista Community Services District,  UCSB staff, the Isla Vista Foot Patrol office, and the Associated Students.

The businesses in Isla Vista will also be seeing a boost.  Many have had a sluggish time during the COVID crisis with few students in and around the area.  

This is a week for students to fill their dorms, and in many cases, pick up a new bike to get around.

UCSB requires students to have a California State Bicycle License. That is obtained at the campus police office.  Registration is valid for three years.  Unlicensed bikes are subject to impound.

"There is definitely a change. It seems like a culture shift has happened that's not as rah rah," said UC Santa Barbara student Garrett Green.

"I'm all in person and I prefer in person. I don't think I learn very well over the zoom school. You make the most of the circumstances  that you have," said Green.

One freshman student says she's here from Pasadena with the backing of her parents.  "My family has been encouraging me to go to college my entire life.  It's always been this thing, do this for the future, do this for college,"  said Jessie Allen. She was getting an orientation with friends around Isla Vista and the campus.

Many students in Isla Vista are getting settled in their apartments or student housing,  buying bikes to get around and having similar needs taken care of before they go into a classroom.

What's offered at UC Santa Barbara nearby and in Isla Vista, students with specific questions or a need for resources can find them at a number of locations.     

There will also be several weeks of free Friday night movies and free concerts in the park.

Isla Vista Parks and Recreation District Director Kimberly Kiefer said there is a full schedule going forward. "The goal is all of our events are multi generational and inclusive. They are safe. It is an opportunity for people to connect and meet each other maybe they haven't met friends yet and they can connect with each other and at the end of the day we want the events that is not just for the students but for the community of Isla Vista."

 Isla Vista leaders want the experience off the campus to be an outlet for students and a good break from their studies.

Kiefer said, "we always want opportunities in our parks as havens. From the density of Isla Vista  it's only a mile square.  How do our parks which we have 25, serve as backyards for our families and our students."

A UCSB senior says,  he's looking forward to a successful finish to his college education here.

Green said, "it terms of just the general area.  I never felt safer in Isla Vista. I feel completely fine."

The new student convocation took place Monday, on the main campus lawn.

The first day of instruction is September 22.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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