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Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 11:19 pm | Fair 47º


Governor Signs Isla Vista Self-Governance Bill

A hard-fought effort to achieve self-governance in Isla Vista won a battle Wednesday when California Governor Jerry Brown signed a state bill that would allow the unincorporated community to create a Community Services District — that is, if voters approve it.

Assemblyman Das Williams introduced AB 3 late last year to create a CSD governing his hometown of Isla Vista, a densely populated community of about 23,000 living adjacent to UC Santa Barbara and Goleta, currently under the care of Santa Barbara County.

Isla Vista has failed to obtain cityhood three times before, but Williams suggested a CSD to give oversight to the often-overlooked community.

Because the Isla Vista CSD differs from typical districts — stakeholders hope to implement a Utility User Tax to financially support the CSD by taxing for utility services consumed — AB 3 needed to circumvent the normal formation process involving the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission.

“This has been one of the most community driven bills the legislature has ever seen,” Williams said in a statement. “Everything included in the bill was reviewed during weekly community stakeholder meetings and, after 45 years, Isla Vista will finally have the opportunity to vote on their own governance.”

With AB 3 signed into law, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will place it on the next countywide ballot for voter approval, which would be in June 2016.

District operations would be contingent upon passage of a Utility User Tax by two-thirds of voters, said Lourdes Jimenez, Williams’ chief of staff.

News of AB 3’s passage follows a financial commitment last month from UCSB officials, who agreed to support the CSD by providing $200,000 annually for “mutually-agreed upon projects, programs, and/or services that advance the common goals of the university and the CSD, either by providing the funds for such projects, programs and/or services or by financing them and providing them directly.”

The amount was pledged for 2017 — giving time for the CSD to get off the ground— until 2024, at which point renewal would be considered.

“UCSB is committed to the IV community and we share the goals outlined in AB 3 of improving local governance, providing better support and services to IV residents and improving the safety and quality of life in the community,” Chuck Haines, UCSB director of capital development, wrote in a letter to Williams.

“Although no property owned by the University of California will be subject to the jurisdiction of the proposed Community Services District, whether or not it is located within the boundaries of such a district, we want to do our part to support the community and to help make a Community Services District economically viable.”

Locally, officials were split on whether AB 3 was the right path for self-governance in Isla Vista, but most agree Isla Vista should have more control over its own destiny.

AB 3 asks to form a seven-member CSD board, with five elected at large from within the district, one appointed by the county Board of Supervisors and one appointed by UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang.

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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