The Santa Barbara County Legislative Committee approved Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr’s motion on Monday afternoon to recommend the SB County Board of Supervisors support the current form of Assembly Bill 3 (AB 3) and monitor it over time.
UC Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) Associated Students, Isla Vista long-term residents and Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) members spoke in public forum to either support or oppose the bill, discussing specifics such as financial feasibility. Santa Barbara Assemblyman Das Williams introduced AB 3 to the California State Assembly in December 2014 to establish a Community Services District (CSD) in I.V. with the power to levy taxes to fund improved local services and infrastructure.
The consensus around my college has been issues about safety and services … something needs to be done. I know for the last 40 to 50 years we as students have just been asking for help, asking for help, asking for help and it seems like everyone is bickering on how it needs to be done – SBCC Associated Student government student trustee Nicholas Steil
Farr said I.V. requires more money than the county can provide and creating a CSD gives I.V. residents the power to determine issues of importance to their community that they would be willing to fund through tax revenue.
“The county is going to have to continue to support Isla Vista but it’s not necessarily going to have the money and the wherewithal to do all that the community needs,” Farr said. “Which is what this bill is trying to address in some ways … I think to give the community the opportunity to say ‘Ok, we want these things, we’d be willing to pay for them and tax them,’ certainly could be a real benefit to the county in the future.”
LAFCO Special District Member Jeff Moorhouse said while he knows there is currently a financial feasibility study underway, he questions LAFCO’s future role within the CSD.
“When a special district is formed through the NSR [new source review] sphere of influence process LAFCO goes through, that’s an ongoing process,” Moorhouse said. “So are we going to do that? Are we going to continue to do the financial feasibility study and is LAFCO going to have the ability to do that?”
Farr said while it is unclear whether LAFCO will play a role in the CSD, it is important to understand AB 3 is a solution specific to the issue facing I.V.
“If they fit the standard model they probably would have gone through the LAFCO process before now,” Farr said. “But it’s a unique community that needs a unique solution … to me it seems it’s premature that LAFCO is not going to have a role in this in some fashion.”
According to fourth-year and former Associated Students External Vice President for Local Affairs Cameron Schunk, AB 3 will allow LAFCO to monitor a CSD in I.V. through oversight such as municipal service reviews and financial feasibility studies.
“I don’t think anyone in this room who’s a supporter of AB 3 has ever wanted LAFCO completely out of this process and never talked to again,” Schunk said.
First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal said, as a UCSB alumnus and former I.V. resident, he agrees with Farr that I.V. faces unique challenges that AB 3 could help resolve.
“The uniqueness and the complexity of this community lends itself to a unique solution,” Carbajal said.
SBCC Associated Student government student trustee Nicholas Steil said he believes SBCC students are in support of AB 3 because it presents potential solutions to the problems many students face in I.V.
“The consensus around my college has been issues about safety and services … something needs to be done. I know for the last 40 to 50 years we as students have just been asking for help, asking for help, asking for help and it seems like everyone is bickering on how it needs to be done,” Steil said. “But with AB 3 I feel that this is the most comprehensive as far as right now that can be done.”
There is an energy amongst the students, amongst the community to have something like this done because it’s apparent to anybody who has lived in Isla Vista as a student that a more consistent and a better heard voice for students is something that is absolutely necessary for the people living here. – Associated Students Off-Campus Senator Carlos Lopez
Isla Vista Property Owners Association Chair Chuck Eckert said AB 3 is a “disaster waiting to happen,” because transient students will assume leadership roles.
“All you have to do is look at the Isla Vista Rec and Park District over the last ten years — the average student director has been there for less than eighteen months,” Eckert said.
According to UCSB Associated Students Off-Campus Senator and third-year anthropology major Carlos Lopez, those in opposition to AB 3 argue student voices do not hold the same weight as other I.V. community members in the movement for self-governance because they are a transient population.
“I may not be living here in ten years and my friends may not be living here in ten years but … the needs of students in Isla Vista is something that has been consistent,” Lopez said. “The needs AB 3 addresses … are also not transitory.”
Lopez also said the support for AB 3 among students is indicative of their desire to be heard in the political realms.
“There is an energy amongst the students, amongst the community to have something like this done because it’s apparent to anybody who has lived in Isla Vista as a student that a more consistent and a better heard voice for students is something that is absolutely necessary for the people living here,” Lopez said.