Isla Vista is an unincorporated community in Santa Barbara County, California, United States. As of the 2000 census, it had a population of 18,344. The majority of residents are college students at nearby UC Santa Barbara or at Santa Barbara City College. The beach-side community is a census-designated place west of the University of California, Santa Barbara, on a flat plateau about 30 feet (9 m) in elevation, separated from the beach by a bluff. Many paths connect the town to the beach.
Isla Vista enjoys a Mediterranean climate and often has slightly 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 two small peninsulas, Coal Oil Point and Campus Point, in view of the Channel Islands. During El Niño years, precipitation in Isla Vista can be excessive and potentially 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 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.
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