The Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Committee (LAFCO) met at the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room at the Santa Barbara County Administration in Santa Barbara to review a report on the proposed formation of a Community Services District (CSD) in Isla Vista.
California Assemblymember Das Williams introduced Assembly Bill 3 (AB 3) to the California State Assembly on Dec. 1 to propose the creation of an I.V. CSD to provide infrastructure and services to I.V. residents. Students, I.V. residents and community members and stakeholders attended the meeting to voice their opinion on the importance of AB 3 and push for LAFCO’s support of the bill. LAFCO assigned commissioners Doreen Farr, Greg Geyer and Jeff Moorhouse to work with Williams on the bill and report to LAFCO on the progress being made.
Williams said he believes LAFCO should play a role in the process of getting AB 3 passed, in addition to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.
“I think the beginning is right now. I have asked for meetings with a number of individual board members and I would ask for meetings with all of them,” Williams said. “But in addition to individual meetings I would think LAFCO with your staff and board members should be a part of our stakeholder process.”
Williams said the formation of a CSD in I.V. would assist the Board of Supervisors in the work they are doing to improve I.V.
“I would say CSD could speed up the great work that board member Farr and others on the Board of Supervisors have done to provide safety lighting in Isla Vista, which is an integral part of the sexual assault issue out in Isla Vista,” Williams said.
District Six Representative on the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees Jonathan Abboud said I.V. needs self-governance because its dense population makes it unlike other unincorporated areas.
“Isla Vista is a very unique place with probably one of the most dense communities on this side of the Mississippi and this CSD doesn’t go through the traditional LAFCO process because it is custom-tailored for Isla Vista,” Abboud said. “There are very specific things that are different for Isla Vista that don’t apply to a general unincorporated area. We waited for 40 years. Do we need to wait for another tragedy to get things going?”
According to Williams, the CSD would also help address the issue of insufficient law enforcement in I.V. in relation to a recent increase in population.
“The second possibility would be to address the fact that while the population of Isla Vista has risen 25 percent, the amount of boots on the ground of law forcing officers has remained … relatively constant,” Williams said.
Thirty-year I.V. resident Thomas Dixon spoke at the meeting and said he supported AB 3 because he does not approve of manner which I.V. is currently governed.
“The whole country is aware of Isla Vista being a problem community. [Isla Vistans] should have the power to at least control some of that,” Dixon said. “If you just obstruct the community service district and don’t come up with something better you’re just kicking the can down the road. We can’t just simply live with the status quo, that simply is not acceptable.”
Williams said the CSD could also play a role in providing structure and control in the midst of the I.V. party culture, by modeling tactics used at other public universities.
“Cal Poly, which had a huge public safety issue around partying in their community, addressed it by hiring some students to be the face of Public Safety to address parties that were getting out of control,” Williams said.
Williams also said the role of the university in the establishment of self-governance in I.V. has taken a positive turn.
“The role of the university — that is the one thing that changed and I view as an opportunity,” Williams said. “I have been very critical in the past, as have many residents … and the fact is that this process, this trustee report, is a huge change on the part of the attitude of the university — a willingness to say ‘We’re a part of the problem, we’re also a part of the solution’ and an opportunity that we have not had in 40 years, and I ask that we try to seize upon that opportunity.”