The Office of Assemblymember Das Williams held the latest in a series of conversations about Isla Vista self-governance this past Tuesday night in the I.V. Clinic building in order to discuss the creation of a new community center in I.V. and the university’s potential purchase of property and expansion into the unincorporated area of I.V.
Attendees discussed possibilities for the available space and suggested different events, activities and organizations to potentially utilize the community center, — such as a children’s reading space and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) — as well as ways the addition could be cost efficient. The community center is planned to be located in either the I.V. Clinic Building or on 976 Embarcadero Del Mar, in a vacant building that was formerly a Greek Orthodox church.
The community center discussion is a small microcosm of the bigger issue of self-governance. – SBCC Trustee and community organizer Jonathan Abboud
LuAnn Miller, the Executive Director of Isla Vista Youth Projects, said her vision of the I.V. Clinic building is to host free space to provide services to varying local groups.
“In my dreams, that’s sort of a revolving office space for all the variety of social services that are so difficult for I.V. families to get to because it takes three different buses to get there,” Miller said.
Miller also said a room could be used as a children’s reading space to increase the area available for public use.
“We don’t have a library here and we don’t have to make a big huge public library,” Miller said, “but there are some uses that we could do to make this very community friendly.”
Board member of the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) Pegeen Soutar said leasing the large second-floor space could subsidize the first floor for cheaper use.
“What I would hope is that what happens up here [on the second floor] pays enough money so that this space and that space [the first floor] are at a no cost to very, very low cost for the community,” Soutar said.
Santa Barbara City College Trustee and community organizer Jonathan Abboud said the struggle to develop a community center in I.V. highlights that there is “no local control over local service.”
“A lot of concerns people bring up are the same reasons why we should have a greater form of self-governance whether it’s a city or a CSD,” Abboud said. “The community center discussion is a small microcosm of the bigger issue of self-governance.”
Also addressed at the meeting was the university’s potential expansion and purchase of property in I.V.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Alumni Affairs George Thurlow said it is unlikely that the university will purchase I.V. housing because of a Long Range Development Plan that says the university must build housing to accommodate for an increase in student residents.
“At some point that conversation may begin again if there’s a feeling that by buying housing in Isla Vista the university can improve the conditions here,” Thurow said. “There’s no incentive at all. In fact, to do so at this time would be foolish.”