The power went out in Isla Vista at approximately 7:30 p.m. during Deltopia 2016, bringing a sharp end to festivities and shrouding the small town in darkness for several hours.
The darkness was piercing, terrifying in uncrowded blocks of I.V, but the blackout passed without major incident. Isla Vistans have not always been so lucky in the night.
It’s stunning that a square-mile so concentrated with bodies has functioned without a dedicated government for more than 70 years, clumsily building upon the same road patterns and density designations that just barely worked at the offset.
Bits and pieces of homes have fallen into the Pacific abyss below, but developers keep building on the shrinking cliffside.
Women have been raped in dimly lit, isolated streets, and others find it difficult to step out of their homes to walk in their own neighborhoods.
On May 23, 2014, six UC Santa Barbara students were murdered by a man who took later his own life. It feels cold and unfamiliar to see it listed among “college shootings,” but there it appears.
These are not bullet points for political maneuvering, and those who choose to apply them this way are sorely fractured in their moral compass.
What has proven the need for self-governance is the actions of brave, intelligent people who have already taken on the fight for family in I.V. — one filled with a dissonant bundle of students, business owners, families and rooted individuals.
Their fight needs legitimization, and the CSD is a fledgling step toward validating the people who truly care for I.V.
On its face, the I.V. CSD is advertised as a grassroots movement, and it sincerely began this way through the collaboration of a handful of invested individuals. These individuals continue to work tirelessly toward its completion.
Its documentation, however, is complicated and inaccessible to several, especially minority families who live in I.V. They don’t have the time to delve into financial feasibility studies, attend stakeholders meetings and argue with those who may not be serving their interest.
The organizers of the CSD need to make large strides in serving the communities they discuss at town halls that glaringly lack a diverse presence. If addressed with time and dedication, the CSD can properly include all Isla Vistans.
The Nexus also points out that, though the CSD is one of the more powerful special districts to be formed in the state, it is still limited in its ability to carry out certain services.
Of the eight CSD powers listed in Assembly Bill 3 (AB 3), five require some sort of approval from the Santa Barbara County board of supervisors: instituting a Municipal Advisory Council (MAC), forming an Area Planning Commission (APC), infrastructure improvement, running the community center and creating a parking district.
The CSD has the ability to fund a MAC and an APC, but the county board of supervisors must directly approve the creation of these two entities. Even if the board of supervisors creates the MAC and APC, it is not obligated to follow their recommendations.
The CSD might not be able to make the sweeping changes in Isla Vista that supporters say it will. It operates on the risk of becoming another method for the University and the county to stake their claim in Isla Vista.
Isla Vistans are wary of outside involvement in our personal affairs, and increased police presence from the county has only aggravated issues of disrespect and mistrust. Our solution will come from within the community.
Despite our initial reservations, we ultimately believe the limited services are worth fighting for. At least progress will be made toward providing necessary services — such as landlord-tenant mediation and community policing — which have been neglected at the county level for far too long.
We hope I.V.’s self-governance springs forth from a wide array of community members in constant conversation with one another. This has been the story of the CSD initiative, but the narrative is faltering.
Whatever you call this movement, the leadership and growing sense of community ownership has been good for I.V. Activism is abound in this neighborhood, overflowing from its limited boundaries into Santa Barbara, Goleta and UCSB.
I.V. and UCSB broke national records in voter registration this year; the UCSB Million Student March was the largest in the country; students travelled hundreds of miles to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline; conservative students actively raise their voice to combat liberal ones.
The result is toiling, aggressive, exhausting and inspirational. Not every community has students as strong as these.
These students and the people who live, work and raise children in I.V. are the reason the CSD can work. This movement is reliant on attention, care and respect. It will crumble into the status quo of politics otherwise.
The Nexus hesitantly supports Measures E and F, but we are unreservedly elated for the prospect of a more whole Isla Vista. The I.V. CSD is one of several steps toward a better, stronger community.