The Libertarian Party of Santa Barbara County filed suit against the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District in December, alleging that several members of the board and 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall held a secret meeting in IVRPD Chairman Ariana Katovich’s backyard.

The Libertarians claim the secret meeting that allegedly occurred last summer violates the Brown Act, which states that a decision-making body cannot convene without notifying the public. The Libertarian Party claims a member of the public attempted to attend the meeting and was told to leave.

“The public was actively kept away from this meeting by the members of the IVRPD,” said William Hansolt, the attorney representing the Libertarians. “When a member of the public, who has great interest in the business to which the IVRPD conducts, showed up at this barbecue meeting, he was promptly told by an IVRPD board member that this was a private meeting and that he was not welcome and had to leave.”

Marshall’s assistant Mark Chaconas said the meeting was unrelated to the IVRPD.

“It was a meeting held at [Katovich’s] house; it did not have to do with park district matters. It was a meeting about Isla Vista and how to deal with the community. It was on the heels of the LAFCO vote,” he said. “The meeting was held to talk about broader issues in Isla Vista, about the community and how to bring more effort from local governments and from state government. We never talked about anything to do with park issues.”

The lawsuit was filed by Hansolt, who has handled and won several other lawsuits over violations of the Brown Act for the Libertarian Party concerning various other government agencies, including the Santa Barbara School Board and Sheriff’s Dept. office.

“This particular barbecue meeting was not only not posted and published with an agenda, those who had made a written request to be mailed notice of all IVRPD meetings were not mailed notice of this meeting,” Hansolt said.

“The actions of the board violated this government code in that it did not provide an opportunity for the public to address the board at any of these committee meetings. The actions of the board were deliberate to prevent members of the public to attend these meetings and address the board on issues of public importance, and as such, stifled the free speech rights of these members of the public,” Hansolt said.

The IVRPD intends to file a legal response later this month.

“It’s frivolous and we will be defending it vigorously,” Katovich said. “We are people that met to discuss issues of Isla Vista safety and there is nothing wrong in that.”