With lines yet to be drawn and decisions still to be made, a few Isla Vista residents debated the pros and cons of I.V.’s possible inclusion within Goleta Now!’s proposed city Wednesday night.
Close to 25 people attended an informational meeting 3rd District County Supervisor Gail Marshall held in I.V. Theater to ask questions or comment on the possible inclusion of I.V. in the proposal. Santa Barbara County’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) will vote within the next month on whether to include Isla Vista within the proposed boundaries of the Goleta Now! cityhood proposal.
Discussion focused on the impact of having more registered voters within the proposed city boundaries, which would result in more money for services such as road maintenance and public works. Marshall said the current census figures show approximately 19,000 registered voters in I.V., which would have a significant impact on the amount of money the proposed city may receive from the state.
County Administrator Jim McClure presented the results of a LAFCO study of the fiscal impacts of including I.V. He said including I.V. in the cityhood proposal would have a very positive impact on the financial future of the new city.
“Based on the preliminary numbers of the fiscal analysis, Option A, which does not include I.V., would result in a $2 million surplus in the road fund over the next 10 years, assuming the same service levels,” McClure said. “Option B, which includes I.V., would result in a $20 million surplus. The I.V./UCSB option brings a lot of state subventions into the equation. The new city is so much more viable with I.V. and the university included.”
In a conceptual vote at LAFCO’s last meeting, the organization voted not to include I.V. in the boundaries of the proposed city. Marshall said if I.V. is not included in the Goleta cityhood boundaries, I.V. will have few administrative options.
“If I.V. does not become part of Goleta, it has very limited options on its own,” Marshall said. “The [Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District] could be expanded into a community services district, which would take over public works. But, they would not be able to do land-use planning, which seems to be a big issue here. Leaving I.V. as an island also poses service challenges such as for the police and fire department. It’s much more cost effective and efficient if the two communities are combined.”
IVRPD member Harley Augustino asked Marshall how I.V. inclusion in the Goleta cityhood proposal could affect the progression of the I.V. Master Plan. Marshall said the new city would have jurisdiction over any land-use proposals within its boundaries.
“If I.V. is included, land-use planning goes to the new city, and that means the master plan,” she said. “The new city would make the decisions as to how to spend the money from the I.V. Redevelopment Agency. But you have to understand that the master plan and the Redevelopment Agency are two entirely different entities. I don’t think I.V. inclusion would have much impact on the progression of the master plan.”
The meeting was held to inform I.V. residents of the ongoing discussions about I.V. inclusion, Marshall said. “I thought the Isla Vista community needed an update on the Goleta Now! proposal for cityhood, both with and without I.V. included.”
IVRPD director Pegeen Soutar said she was disappointed in the turnout, but thought all interested parties were represented.
“I thought the people here tonight were fairly representative of the I.V. population,” Soutar said. “There were students, a few property owners, a Latino family and others. I think the poor turnout was because there were so many other meetings for different things tonight, like the Leg Council. But the students really are interested in this issue, because it affects everyone who lives here. It’s really important to get people to understand what’s going on here, because the chances of Goleta annexing us at a later time are slim.”
Marshall urged people to attend the final LAFCO meetings on this issue April 26 and May 3 because the boundaries for the proposed city have yet to be finalized.
“We have a meeting on April 26 at 5 p.m. at the county building that will be really important for people here to attend and voice their opinions,” she said. “That’s when we’ll be considering the inclusion of I.V. and the final boundaries of the Goleta Now! proposal. I expect a final decision to be made at our next meeting on May 3. So this is all happening really soon.”