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Divided Officials Support Isla Vista Self-Governance Bill

Local elected officials showed divided support for a proposed Isla Vista self-governance bill Tuesday, with two government bodies adopting resolutions by slim majorities.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors went first, voting 3-2 to adopt a resolution backing AB3, which aims to create a Community Services District to govern Isla Vista, the densely populated, unincorporated community of about 23,000 living on less than one square mile near UC Santa Barbara and Goleta.

The board’s resolution — opposed by Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam and Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino — suggested an amendment allowing the CSD to operate at least six years instead of the proposed 10 so the county wouldn’t get stuck financially supporting the district if voters fail to pass a certain tax.

Goleta City Council members approved a similar supportive move by a 3-2 vote, with City Councilmen Roger Aceves and Tony Vallejo opposed until they see a financial analysis.

They also wanted Santa Barbara County’s Local Agency Formation Commission involved in the formation process — a sentiment shared by dissenting county officials. LAFCO voted to oppose the bill unless it’s amended to involve the board, which typically creates CSDs.

Assemblyman Das Williams, who introduced AB3 late last year, hoped officials would back his bill as it makes its way through the legislative process.

Having cleared its first committee last week, AB3 moves on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee before a full Assembly floor vote. It must pass off the Assembly floor by June 5 and out of the Legislature by September.

If the governor signs it, the county Board of Supervisors would place it on the ballot for voter approval during the next countywide election in June 2016.

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr, who represents Isla Vista, said she was in favor of AB3, mainly because locals at town hall meetings support enacting a Utility User Tax to financially support the CSD — a power LAFCO can’t bestow. 

The bill also calls for a CSD that includes a tenant mediation program, the ability to contract for additional police services, and the ability to exercise the powers of a parking district.

“It’s clear that Isla Vista has all the attributes of a city without being a city,” Farr said.

Locals voted down past city hood attempts in 1972, 1975 and 1983.

Farr also liked plans for a seven-member CSD board, with five elected at large from within the district, one appointed by county supervisors and one appointed by UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang.

Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf was worried UCSB hadn’t yet taken a stance of support, but she wanted to be able to back the bill while amending the duration of the CSD to allow voters more time to approve a utility user tax.

First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal said he could support that motion, but Adam and Lavagnino said they couldn’t give blanket approval due to unanswered questions, especially involving financials.

Goleta’s affirmative vote came two weeks after the City Council failed to pass a motion supporting AB3.

Mayor Paula Perotte, who was absent from that meeting, was able to swing a previously deadlocked vote in favor of the bill Tuesday.

Aceves asked to send a letter outlining why he and Vallejo were against AB3, which council unanimously green-lighted.

“I think it’s important that the Assembly hear why we’re opposed,” Aceves said.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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