Members of the Santa Barbara City Council and the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees got input from community members and discussed the complex topic of student housing at a meeting this week. 

Some residents wanted the council to push students out from what was described by one speaker as “little Isla Vista,” while others encouraged student dorm-style housing near the SBCC campus.

There was no decision made by the council Wednesday night, but elected officials and community members had an open dialogue about the controversial topic.

One resident who lives on Loma Alta Drive said the Mesa residential area and beach waterfront would become rowdy if dormitories were built.

The resident said students can be disruptive, “especially when right out of their door beckons the surf, harbor, Funk Zone and liquor store down the hill.”

The onsite property manager at Beach City said purpose-built student housing works. 

“Students are an asset to the community,” she said. “Student housing provides structure, guidance and importantly a community of like-minds where students can express themselves both socially and academically.”

Councilman Randy Rowse said he has been a neighbor of SBCC for 31 years. 

“I’ve seen various transitions in the neighborhood,” Rowse said. “For the most part, it has been a pleasant experience.”

Since SBCC is a state agency, the city has less control over its planning decisions, Rowse explained. 

SBCC President Lori Gaskin clarified that the college doesn’t have funding for dorms or student housing and it wasn’t SBCC that put in a bid for the Harbor Heights Manor Apartments at 831 Cliff Dr., it was the SBCC Foundation

The problem with Santa Barbara is there is an imbalance of jobs and people, more than houses available to accommodate, Councilman Jason Dominguez said. 

“There’s nothing wrong with 1,500 people living together,” Dominguez said. “If they all have a positive goal. If they know what respect to each other means — there’s nothing wrong with that structure.”

Dominguez said he’d like to see students step up and be involved in the discussion about housing.

SBCC student trustee Emily Gribble said it is key to build bridges between Mesa residents and students. She pushed the close proximity to campus as a benefit for community college students.

“Living within 100-feet of the campus is helping me go to class more often,” Gribble said.

SBCC Board Trustee Jonathan Abboud brought on the issue of affordable student housing for nontraditional, low-income students who balance multiple jobs to afford community college.

He said the University of California’s dramatic boost in student enrollment, along with not enough student housing when UCSB was developing in the late ’60s, pushed locals out of the area.

“Not having student housing near SBCC creates that same market insensitive for private property owners to turn their houses into permanent rental houses for students,” Abboud said, a six-year Isla Vista resident said. 

City Councilmember Bendy White said a big surge of commercial growth occurred in the ’80s in Santa Barbara, which developed a job-housing imbalance. He said for future plans, officials must include neighbor input.

“I see neighbors being unhappy and in Santa Barbara that can have a big influence,” White said.

The SBCC Associate Dean of Student Affairs encourages students to meet their neighbors and develop positive relationships. 

The Santa Barbara City College Neighborhood Task Force has implemented strategies to addressing issues of inappropriate student behaviors in residential areas, with the most recent focus on the city’s noise ordinance, establishing administrative fines for noise ordinance violations and deploying the Student Neighborhood Assistance Program.

SNAP officers would serve as a liaison between law enforcement and the student community, with a purpose to issue warnings in response to noise complaint calls. Fines for the administrative citation escalates for recurring violations over a nine-month period from $350 to $1,000, according to George Buell, community development director.

For the past several years, SNAP has been implemented in San Luis Obispo and has been effective at reducing approximately 30 percent of noise-related calls for service to the police department, according to the SBCC Neighborhood Task Force.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Brooke Holland, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @NoozhawkNews

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.