The overwhelming passage of Measure E in November led to the formation of the Isla Vista Community Services District on March 1. The IVCSD is the result of a four-decades-long movement for greater local representation and the desire to improve the quality of life found in Isla Vista. The Board of Directors has been hard at work over the past few months. Since our inaugural meeting on March 7, my colleagues and I have been working to build a strong foundation for Isla Vista’s newly formed local government. Last week marked the end of our first 100 days in office, and I would like to take this opportunity to share some of the highlights of the first 100 days.
At our first meeting, we received the appointments of directors Robert Geis and George Thurlow, representing the County of Santa Barbara and University of California, Santa Barbara, respectively. Geis and Thurlow are serving alongside five elected officials: Spencer Brandt, Natalie Jordan, Jay Freeman, Fr. Jon-Stephen Hedges, and myself.
As a newly formed entity, the need to develop policies and procedures emerged as an essential first task. Our Policy Committee has quickly drafted and recommended policies, which have accumulated into a preliminary District policy manual that outlines many procedures and processes for our new district.
Our Formation Committee has worked hard to make recommendations on initial administrative needs required for all new Special Districts, such as our district’s financial and accounting systems, office space, insurance, and legal counsel. I’m happy to report that we’ve recently obtained general counsel from a firm with vast experience working with new local government agencies and that the County of Santa Barbara recently set aside funding for the IVCSD to open an office in Isla vista.
In collaboration with UCSB’s Department of Political Science, IVCSD has established a paid internship program, promoting UCSB student involvement with local governance and public service in Isla Vista. Three students served as interns this spring, working as a part of the program’s inaugural class. Our interns have worked on a variety of projects, including conducting research on issues and possible solutions, making presentations, drafting communications, and assisting with board meetings. Our summer cohort begins in the coming weeks.
With safety being at the top of our priorities, my colleagues and I successfully advocated for a full restoration of funding for the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, after a preliminary budget report from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office recommended removing upward of 10 deputies from patrol in Isla Vista. On May 30, my colleagues and I held a town-hall meeting to hear from our constituents about their public safety concerns and discuss programs that could be implemented to make Isla Vista a safer community.
Our Board of Directors voted to support Measure O, a successful local tax measure by the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District that secured a $2.5M investment in our treasured parks, open spaces, and recreational programs over the next 10 years. Funding from Measure O may be used to bring recycled water to the parks, pay for outdoor exercise equipment, establish a dog park, and expand recreational programs for all Isla Vista residents.
Additionally, my colleagues and I are pleased to have initiated discussions with UCSB regarding funding for mutually agreed upon projects, programs, and services. Through our partnership, we will be able to jointly provide services that will improve the quality of life in Isla Vista. The IVCSD is authorized to provide eight services, including: contracting for additional police protection services, creating a tenant mediation program, and administering a parking district.
Recognizing the significance of the formation of a broadly focused local government in Isla Vista, the IVCSD has received several commendations from various local entities and representatives, including:
• Local Government Heroes Award from the Santa Barbara County Action Network
• Congressional Commendation from Congressmember Salud Carbajal
• Special Recognition from the City of Goleta
I am proud of what has been accomplished in the first 100 days of service of the Board of Directors but even more excited about our work ahead in the coming months. The IVCSD will continue to work with UCSB to explore options for the initial provision of services, consider future revenue opportunities, and continue to conduct a robust community engagement process to ensure the participation and representation of Isla Vistans in local governance.
Ethan Bertrand is board president of the Isla Vista Community Services District.