Just after the ceremonial signing of a new climate change bill at the Griffith Observatory on Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown turned to Assemblymember Das Williams and said he has been talking to a lot of people about AB 3, the unique bill to establish self-governance in Isla Vista. “And I’m inclined to sign it,” Williams recalled Brown said to him.
Later Wednesday afternoon, Brown signed AB 3, the unprecedented and controversial bill Williams drafted late last year in an effort to give Isla Vista residents a voice and a governing mechanism. Since last December, a group of students and long term residents met about 50 times to fill in the specifics of the bill, which was initially vague, spelling out few details about what kind of services a modestly funded community services district could support.
Brown’s stance on the bill was largely unclear. But during a meeting earlier this summer, State Senator Bob Hertzberg noted Brown might dislike the bill on the grounds it could clutter government (by adding a district separate from the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District) and levy additional taxes (in the form of a utility user tax). But Williams expressed confidence in the measure, citing the uniqueness of Isla Vista.
Brown has yet to release a statement about the bill, but Williams speculated Brown wanted to make sure there wasn’t a better solution out there. “I think what’s clear is that this is a practical one,” Williams said. “Under these circumstances, meaning without the sales tax base that many communities have, you’ve got to figure out how to provide an adequate level of service.”
For a community services district to be established, Isla Vista residents have to approve the district and the utility tax on the November 2016 ballot. A district is estimated generate between $320,000 and $512,000. Earlier this summer, UCSB pledged to contribute $200,000 a year for seven years. “Their role is crucial,” Williams said, and added that various voices at UCSB are much more in unison about the need to make Isla Vista and better place to live, and how to do it.
When asked what he would say to critics who argue that the generated amount would be too little to sustain a special district, Williams contended half-a-million dollars would bring in a substantial amount of resources. “Would it be better if there were more?” he asked. “Absolutely.”
In the meantime, Williams, whose wife had a baby girl three-and-a-half weeks ago, said he is focusing less on bills at the moment and more on cleaning reusable diapers.