Isla Vista is widely believed to be the most densely populated community in the United States west of the Mississippi river. The community grew in Goleta, California in the beachside environs of the University of California, Santa Barbara. During the 1960s, Isla Vista gained a reputation for liberal excess with the burning of the Bank of America. Today, Isla Vista continues to be plagued by the stigma of a rowdy young student population whose infamous weekend parties on Del Playa have gained something of an international reputation. The relatively wealthy student population is densely packed into a small annex of Goleta, in which a very poor working Hispanic population also resides. Isla Vista has been disowned by both Goleta and Santa Barbara, with limited funds available for civic projects.
Isla Vista has more bars per capita than permitted by local law, but new applications to serve alcohol continue to be honored by the county government. Isla Vista is also home to one of the most successful housing cooperatives in the State of California. Outside the co-op housing, Isla Vista is notorious for its "slumlords" and exorbitant per-month rents.
Isla Vista enjoys a year-round Mediterranean climate and often has less precipitation than Santa Barbara or the surrounding community of Goleta. Isla Vista is located at the very tip of a central coast peninsula in view of the Channel Islands. However, during El Niņo years, precipitation in Isla Vista can be excessive and potentially dangerous. The houses and apartments built over the cliffs of Del Playa are in imminent danger of falling into the ocean should the region experience another severe El Niņo season.
Isla Vista is located at 34°24'53" North, 119°51'38" West (34.414595, -119.860418)1.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 5.7 km² (2.2 mi²). 5.5 km² (2.1 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 3.64% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 18,344 people, 5,164 households, and 1,208 families residing in the town. The population density is 3,340.9/km² (8,635.2/mi²). There are 5,264 housing units at an average density of 958.7/km² (2,478.0/mi²). The racial makeup of the town is 69.49% White, 2.10% African American, 0.64% Native American, 11.56% Asian, 0.23% Pacific Islander, 10.16% from other races, and 5.81% from two or more races. 20.01% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 5,164 households out of which 13.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 16.4% are married couples living together, 4.8% have a female householder with no husband present, and 76.6% are non-families. 20.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 2.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.96 and the average family size is 3.21.
In the town the population is spread out with 8.6% under the age of 18, 73.4% from 18 to 24, 13.7% from 25 to 44, 3.1% from 45 to 64, and 1.2% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 21 years. For every 100 females there are 100.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 99.8 males.
The median income for a household in the town is $16,151, and the median income for a family is $26,250. Males have a median income of $23,381 versus $20,281 for females. The per capita income for the town is $7,644. 62.8% of the population and 28.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 29.7% are under the age of 18 and 3.1% are 65 or older.