The Isla Vista Community Services District postponed a vote on a contract with Lucidity LLC for a spring festival on Deltopia until December, citing a number of “outstanding issues” in the contract that need to be resolved, Board President Spencer Brandt said at the board’s Tuesday night meeting.

In order for the festival to take place, the district (pictured above at a previous meeting) has to finalize two contracts: one with Lucidity LLC, and the other with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. Leonard Paulasa / Daily Nexus

Much of the current debate about the contract revolves around the necessity of police presence at the festival, as well as the timeliness of the contract approval it has been over a month since the contract with Lucidity was first proposed. 

In order for the festival to take place, the district has to finalize two contracts: one with Lucidity LLC, and the other with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (SBSO). 

In the proposal presented on Tuesday night, Lucidity presented a plan to hire the Guardian Team, a security service “with focus on de-escalation, harm reduction, and crisis management,” according to its website. 

However, the SBSO is contractually obligated to the Isla Vista Community Services District (I.V. CSD), because it is a public entity to provide officers for any large event, regardless of any separate private security hired for the event, according to Brandt but the district would like to minimize the police presence at the festival, he said, as simply seeing officers in uniform could be potentially unsettling for people.

“The truth is that cracking down and forcing and arresting and ticketing our way of public safety is not possible,” Brandt said. 

“That just drives a wedge between law enforcement and the community and we can’t go down that road again. We saw what happened in 2014, there was a riot and we can’t go back to that.”

I.V. CSD Director Jay Freeman called the proposed contract with SBSO — which he said could potentially raise costs for the district “an endless pit of liabilities.” 

The contract includes an “indemnification” clause, which would require the I.V. CSD to agree to “indemnify, defend and hold harmless [the] COUNTY … against any and all claims, actions, losses, damages, and/or liabilities,” according to the contract.

Freeman raised concerns that should a situation arise in which the SBSO would need to bring in more officers, costs would rise for the I.V. CSD. However, according to G. Ross Trindle, district counsel for the I.V. CSD, the possibility is very low for a situation in which the I.V. CSD would be at fault for the actions of SBSO.

I.V. CSD Director George Thurlow also mentioned concerns from SBSO leadership about the timeline of putting together the festival. At the I.V. Safe Task Force meeting held earlier that day, he said SBSO leadership did not believe that holding the festival this year “is the right path to take.” 

“[SBSO’s] position on this is ‘wait until next year. It’s too soon and there’s plenty of time for us to get on the same page,’” Thurlow said at the meeting.

Contract negotiations have been ongoing for over a month now; the proposal was originally brought to the I.V. CSD in early October. Sara Marvel, director for Lucidity LLC, emphasized a month ago the importance of approving the contract in a week to get all the moving pieces ready in time for spring.

Half of the board seemed to be seriously considering the possibility of pushing the festival until 2021, although Brandt was adamant that appropriate adjustments could be made to the contract in time for it to be passed.

Freeman stressed the timeliness of the contract as well, adding that pushing the festival to the following year would give the board more time to finalize contracts.

“A month ago we had a meeting and we were talking about these contracts and how we’re going to handle it. It was, essentially, if you don’t get the contract done right now, we won’t have enough time and that was a month [ago] and we still don’t have the contract done, it’s not going to happen until weeks from now,” Freeman said.

“I just don’t think we’re able to pull this off right now.”

Janet, a resident of I.V. for eight years who attended Tuesday’s meeting, echoed Freeman’s thoughts, stating that she believed that changing the culture around Deltopia could not be done in a year.

“So as far as the goals go, which is to change the atmosphere of Deltopia, it has to be a multi-year project. It’s not going to happen in one year. You have to think out a little bit farther because it will be a gradual process,” she said.

Evelyn Spence contributed reporting. 

A version of this article appeared on p. 4 of the Nov. 14, 2019 print edition of the Daily Nexus.

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