Committee members were not able to come to a consensus on the endorsement of Assembly Bill 3 (AB 3) during the Goleta City Council special session meeting Tuesday and no further has discussion has been scheduled.
The office of Assemblyman Das Williams and the Isla Vista Self Governance Initiative are currently hosting the Week of AB 3, a week-long series of events to inform students and residents of AB 3 before the bill goes the California State Assembly Committee on Local Government next Wednesday. As part of this series, UC Santa Barbara students, Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) students and Goleta and Isla Vista residents attended the City Council meeting with the intent of securing a council endorsement for AB 3.
Williams introduced AB 3 in December 2014 to propose establishing I.V. as a community services district (CSD) to address the lack of self-governance in Isla Vista. A CSD would be funded by local taxes and improve local infrastructure and public services. The Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) is a state-mandated agency that oversees the formation of CSDs, however the I.V. CSD would bypass the LAFCO formation process by act of the state legislature.
We can’t continue being unincorporated and keep the status quo, because the status quo has shown to be disastrous. – Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) trustee Jonathan Abboud
Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) trustee and UCSB alumnus Jonathan Abboud said establishing a CSD is necessary to address the issues facing I.V.
“We can’t continue being unincorporated and keep the status quo, because the status quo has shown to be disastrous,” Abboud said.
UCSB Associated Students off-campus senator and third-year anthropology major Carlos Lopez said a CSD would provide residents the opportunity to voice the community’s needs and to change I.V.’s reputation.
“AB 3 is the best chance we have to have Isla Visa take control of itself and in a responsible way turn things that are difficulties now into benefits, to turn the reputation of Isla Vista into a boon for the entire area,” Lopez said.
LAFCO commissioner and California Special Districts Association president Craig Geyer said the bill bypasses the LAFCO formation process and should not be included in the Goleta city agenda.
“The funding source is usually utility tax which is reserved for cities and counties,” Geyer said. “Speaking as a resident of Goleta, I don’t think Goleta has a stick in this fire.”
At this point a lot of the information we’ve asked for to make a decision has not been brought forward. We need evidence of a future funding mechanism to go forward with this. – Longtime I.V. resident Pegeen Soutar
Associated Students External Vice President of Local Affairs and fourth-year political science and psychology double major Cameron Schunk said the discussion on the financial feasibility report outlining the expenses of a CSD is unrelated to the current passage of the bill to committee. Schunk also said LAFCO “continuously misrepresents facts” regarding details of the CSD.
“Consistently property owners, long-term I.V. residents and other groups have been undermining the passage of the self-governance movement and AB 3,” Schunk said. “To say that AB 3 isn’t self-governance while recommending the existing power structures maintain control is not only disingenuous but also misleading.”
Longtime I.V. resident Pegeen Soutar said the LAFCO process of discussing financial aspects of a CSD is “crucial” in making the decision to endorse a bill.
“At this point a lot of the information we’ve asked for to make a decision has not been brought forward,” Soutar said. “We need evidence of a future funding mechanism to go forward with this.”
UCSB economics professor Lanny Ebenstein said creating a CSD is a long overdue step, as shown by recent tragic events in I.V.
“It was tragedy in many respects that led to this proposal coming forward,” Ebenstein said. “It was the clear evidence that the current government structure for Isla Vista is not working.”
By excluding I.V. from the Goleta center boundaries, an orphan was created. – Longtime resident Bruce Murdoch
Longtime resident Bruce Murdoch said Goleta should not partake in the CSD except to address issues of safety, such as establishing ordinances for Deltopia and Halloween weekends. According to Murdoch, these specific ordinances are county-wide and can be executed from within Goleta without the need for a CSD.
“By excluding I.V. from the Goleta center boundaries, an orphan was created,” Murdoch said. “If I.V. was part of Goleta then specific unique ordinances could be drafted to solve these specific unique problems.”
According to Abboud, conversations on the CSD’s financial feasibility will not be relevant for months to come and have distracted from the discussion on endorsement of the bill.
“We will need the feasibility study to determine the rate of the tax but we won’t be determining the rate for maybe another year,” Abboud said. “The CSD law says you’re allowed to have a laundry list of taxes that can be specified later, it’s not important to the fast-paced process of the bill right now.”
Goleta City councilmember Michael T. Bennett said AB 3 is not perfect, but I.V. issues are intrinsically tied to Goleta city issues and should be supported by the council. Bennett said the effectiveness of the I.V. Recreation and Parks Department suggests a CSD that includes students and long-term residents could be successful.
“I think as a beginning point it’s an opportunity for people to determine their own destiny,” Bennett said. “What gives me the most faith that it can actually work is, in fact, the Parks and Rec Department. When that was proposed there were many naysayers … but it has succeeded way beyond anyone’s expectation and has shown that it can work with students and those that are residents with the community.”
After the discussion, committee members took a group vote to postpone the discussion to May 19 to discuss the matter with Mayor Paula Perotte, who could not attend the meeting due to sickness. The motion failed and the committee adjourned to regular meeting.
*This is an updated version of this article.