More people came to a town hall meeting in Isla Vista than the frat party across the street, which bodes well for a self-governance effort for the unincorporated college town. Little consensus emerged Tuesday night about what type of governing body would best serve the community, but one point was clear: Change must happen fast while the wounds of recent tragedies are still fresh.
Possibilities for greater representation ranged from the unlikely option of incorporation (or annexation by either the City of Goleta or Santa Barbara) to the limited governing option of a municipal advisory committee to the County Board of Supervisors. Gaining the most traction seemed to be the midrange choice of a Community Services District (CSD) — essentially a step below cityhood — which comes with political power and the ability to retain revenue. For instance, if a CSD were implemented and included sewage services, a portion of Goleta West Sanitary District reserves could funnel back to Isla Vista. But many long-term residents oppose the CSD because it would give considerable power to the transitory student population while leaving residents with its more permanent results. Several dozen attendees showed up to St. Mark’s church, including 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr, Assemblymember Das Williams, I.V. Recreation & Park District reps, and UCSB and SBCC representatives.
Earlier Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting, county staff gave an update on funding for Isla Vista. After the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) dissolved two years ago, Isla Vista lost monies for infrastructure and affordable housing. Various grants have had to fill in the gaps. The county was able to hold onto three properties formerly owned by the RDA — a medical clinic, church property, and solar parking lot — which will soon provide space for a community center. UCSB Assistant Vice Chancellor George Thurlow, who was recently appointed a special assistant to Chancellor Henry Yang on Isla Vista affairs, spoke to the supervisors on Tuesday afternoon. “These are problems that have festered for 40 years,” he said of the lack of governing mechanisms. “They are not going to be solved quickly, but we feel at UCSB that we have a window of opportunity to make some progress.”