Thursday afternoon, in a 6-1 decision, the Santa Barbara County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted to exclude Isla Vista and UCSB from the proposed city of Goleta.
Approximately 100 people attended the meeting in anticipation of LAFCO’s decision to adopt either Option 1 of the LAFCO proposal, which, like Goleta Now!’s proposed boundaries, excludes I.V. and UCSB, or Option 2, which includes I.V. and UCSB. The boundaries will be voted on in the November election.
Third District Supervisor and LAFCO Commissioner Gail Marshall, I.V.’s only elected county official, delivered a 15-minute speech before the vote supporting I.V.’s incorporation in the proposed boundaries. In her speech, Marshall said criteria justifying Goleta’s cityhood would not be obstructed by I.V.’s inclusion.
“There are five criteria: political feasibility, financial feasibility, the affect on the unincorporated area, desires of the residents and community identity commonality,” she said. “In response to political feasibility, there is an unprecedented and overwhelming support for the creation of the city of Goleta. For financial feasibility, it is pretty clear that I.V. inclusion brings in more money. If I.V. is excluded, it will be an island. I.V. residents have shown their desire to be included. Lastly, I.V. is no more different than the diverse areas of Goleta.
“This is not a decision I have made lightly – I will be voting to include I.V.,” Marshall said.
Marshall requested to vote last during the roll call and faced a 5-1 vote, which favored the LAFCO plan excluding I.V. and UCSB, before making her decision.
Marshall then voted to support the motion excluding I.V. and the university.
“I don’t see any value in a protest motion. I vote yes on the motion,” she said.
In a letter read by LAFCO Staff Executive Officer Bob Braitman, UCSB Vice Chancellor Robert Kuntz stated the university was not prepared to take a position on the issue.
“We have to consider the impact [of the boundary lines] separately from I.V. We would not be prepared until the end of May to send out a memorandum [regarding the university’s position],” Kuntz’s letter stated.
A watery-eyed Tim Campbell, LAFCO chairman, said he hoped the decision would not create a division in the community spirit.
“This has been a professional process, but a lot of ugly things have been said. You need to walk across the aisle as a community. Do not create a division here because you didn’t get your way. Look to the future,” he said. “Build a city, not a wall of prejudice.”
LAFCO Commissioner Dick Dewes said he understands I.V.’s desire to be included, but said previous attempts indicate that a Goleta cityhood measure would not pass on the November ballot if I.V. were to be included.
LAFCO Commissioner John Fox, the only member who voted against the I.V. and UCSB exclusion, said the exclusion would break apart the Goleta community.
“I have always felt that we are a community here in the Goleta Valley. I.V. ought to be included in that community,” he said.
LAFCO Commissioner Bob Orach said LAFCO and Goleta Now! should be praised for their dedication.
“The LAFCO staff should be and is heralded throughout California. I am inclined to support the people who have shown dedication to their cause, namely, the members of Goleta Now!” he said.
Goleta resident Harry Rouse said he was glad the motion passed to exclude I.V. from the proposed city of Goleta.
“I am covered with goose pimples. Mr. Campbell’s summation really moved me. We really need to come together, but I.V. needs to grow up and stop burning couches,” he said.
I.V. Recreation and Parks District board member Ariana Katovich said she was disturbed by Marshall’s decision.
“I feel that she tried to provide leadership. However, she canceled any leadership she provided by voting for the exclusion,” she said. “I was surprised she went back on what she said. It was hypocritical. I’m really angry – I can’t forgive her for what she did.”
Goleta Now! Organizer Jonni Wallis said she believes the cityhood measure will pass in the November election. Wallis also said Goleta Now!’s wish to exclude I.V. is not a reflection of the value the group places on the I.V. community.
“We have studied past ballots, and we are sure that the measure will pass in November,” she said. “I listened very carefully to what the I.V. supporters and residents were saying today. Goleta Now! never assigned a value of good or bad to any community, and not to Isla Vista either. I would dedicate myself to joining a cause to make I.V. a better place,” she said.