Santa Barbara Assemblyman Das Williams and the Isla Vista Self Governance Initiative will host five events over the next two weeks to mobilize support for Assembly Bill 3 (AB 3), including a trip to Sacramento on May 13 to lobby for the bill’s clearance through the California State Assembly Committee on Local Government.
This week, AB 3 supporters can volunteer on Monday at Family Fun Day in Children’s Park and attend the meetings of the Santa Barbara County Legislative Committee Monday, the Goleta City Council Tuesday and the Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) Thursday. The series of events aims to provide students and I.V. residents the opportunity to learn how AB 3 could benefit the community and to advocate for I.V. self-governance.
Williams introduced AB 3 to the State Assembly in December 2014 to establish a Community Services District (CSD) with the ability to levy taxes to provide residents with improved local services and infrastructure.
A.S. External Vice President of Local Affairs (EVPLA) and fourth-year psychology major Cameron Schunk said the events are meant to motivate and inform students and I.V. residents.
“It’s educational, and it’s also in the hopes of empowering people to do work surrounding AB 3, be involved in the process, to really engage with both the bill and the concept of self-governance,” Schunk said.
I.V. Recreation & Park District (IVRPD) board member and second-year history of public policy major Paola Dela Cruz said the key to successfully advocating for AB 3 is to educate I.V. residents by canvassing door to door.
“I really think it’s just getting the word out,” Dela Cruz said. “There’s no way that we can just mail something out and hope that everyone knows about this. You literally have to go and knock on doors and talk to people. So it’s more talking to them and having them engage in the conversation that we’re having.”
Williams said community engagement will be key to ensuring the events over the next two weeks are successful.
“This is the time to show the Legislature that local support exists for AB 3, a bill which will create a community services district to meet the specific and unique needs of Isla Vista,” Williams said in an email. “Having backing from the County of Santa Barbara and surrounding cities is crucial to show the need for more direct government in this area.”
According to Williams, AB 3 supporters being present at this week’s meetings and next week in Sacramento will be key to the bill’s success.
“Bottom line is we need Isla Vista community members to rally together and be heard in the Legislature,” Williams said in an email. “Their presence is critical to ensure passing of this bill. Their voices need to be heard. They know the challenges first-hand and can serve as a strong force to move this bill successfully through the legislative process.”
Schunk said AB 3 is unique piece of legislation because it was developed through I.V. stakeholders’ collective efforts.
“Usually, legislation kind of just comes from Sacramento,” Schunk said. “To the contrary, Das Williams and his office have really kind of stepped up to the plate and done what I think is an outstanding job of really engaging the community.”
Williams and the Initiative are asking for increased community involvement because of the bill’s importance to the I.V. self-governance movement, according to Schunk.
“This bill is so monumental, so it deserves extra attention,” Schunk said. “Every resident of Isla Vista will somehow be impacted by this, so I think it’s critical that we try and hear from as many voices as possible.”
Schunk said, while he hopes to see a significant number of supporters turn out for the County Legislative Committee, Goleta City Council and LAFCO meetings, he has realistic expectations.
“I would like to see at least 10 people at each of those meetings, and I don’t think that’s going to be outlandish,” Schunk said. “The more voices that are heard by these different entities, the more they realize that there is a broad and diverse backing for this movement.”
Schunk said he knows Associated Students will have a significant presence at the AB 3 events, but believes there will also be a strong turn out from non-A.S. students.
“Realistically, I do expect a lot of A.S. members to be there, because those are typically the people who are politically engaged,” Schunk said. “I also do think that we’ve gotten quite a few students both from SBCC and from UCSB who are not involved in student government.”
According to Dela Cruz, the series of events aims to also include non-student residents and Latino families who are not as involved in the self-governance movement.
“We had canvassing for the Family Fun Day … where we had volunteers to help us canvas, and just talked to the community,” Dela Cruz said. “Specifically, families for the Family Fun Day geared towards Isla Vista long-term residents and Latino families who don’t often come to our weekly AB 3 meetings on Tuesdays.”
Santa Barbara City College Trustee and UCSB alumnus Jonathan Abboud said the goal of the AB 3 events is to show Sacramento legislators there is broad local support for the bill.
“That’s why we are seeking endorsements from the County and Goleta as well as the residents of I.V. itself, getting people to every event is going to be challenge due to the meetings being scheduled during work/school hours and out of our control,” Abboud said in an email.