Even though everything has been fairly quiet in Isla Vista for the past couple of months, a lot of people haven’t been lulled into submission. They are unwilling to accept the status quo and have been meeting and working to address some of the issues that plague the area. They know that the problems that gave rise to many of the horrifying events of last year haven’t yet been solved.
People have made a variety of suggestions to improve the situation. One that has met with a positive response involves the formation of some form of local government, and well-attended town hall meetings have been held to discuss the idea, though no one is really sure what this should look like. Everyone has different ideas about what this type of organization or committee would do, how it would be funded, and so on.
In the past, there have been various attempts — some successful, some not — to create a form of local government. Several failed attempts tried to make Isla Vista its own city. Committees were formed to address local issues, one that was successful was disbanded many years ago due to discontinued funding, some locals told me. However, the idea of having this type of local committee is alive and well. The most recent proposal involves a community services district (CSD).
Assemblymember Das Williams has introduced a bill (AB 3) in the California State Assembly to create a CSD for Isla Vista that would be responsible for such things as the public parks, police protection, and transportation facilities: “Over the last year, the Isla Vista community has been faced with many challenges due to tragic events, including two violent sexual assaults, a riot, and a mass shooting that has brought focus to the unique needs of Isla Vista that can only be addressed by direct, local governance.”
While the problems Isla Vista has faced in the past year would be overwhelming for any community, the fact that it does not have local control of the police force or the ability to implement safety or security measures make the problems it faces particularly challenging. Since UCSB, Santa Barbara County, and the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District all share responsibility for portions of the area, and for particular services, there are many times when no one entity takes responsibility for what happens.
When groups work together, however, great things can happen. Take Halloween this year. UCSB and Santa Barbara County representatives instituted policies to discourage destructive behavior. They worked aggressively to spread the word, and the result was a peaceful and relatively uneventful Halloween.
This proves that good things can happen when organizations step up. The next step is to ensure that there is a group dedicated to addressing the challenges I.V. faces. A local committee, with the appropriate authority and funding, might just be the answer.