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Local News

Supervisors Considering Girls-Specific Residential Programming for Juvenile Offenders

Board also discusses recruitment plans for Isla Vista Community Services District board appointment

There is no residential treatment program for delinquent girls in Santa Barbara County and the Board of Supervisors has asked the Probation Department to consider options for one, given the success of the boys-only Los Prietos Boys Camp.

A county Grand Jury report on Los Prietos Boys Camp called the program for delinquent young men “well-run and constitutes a major community asset.”

The June 2016 report requested that the county explore the possibility of adding a program for girls.

Most of the county’s delinquent girls, Chief Probation Officer Guadalupe Rabago said, are in group homes as opposed to foster care.

Twenty are at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, where they receive some sort of education or programming seven days a week, said Deputy Chief Probation Officer Steven DeLira.

The department reviewed three options for residential programs for girls going through the probation system that are intended to reduce recidivism, continue mental-health care and enhance current programming.

“Daily Choices” at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall would be a seven-day-a-week program that would cost the department $600,000, while “Luz de Esperanza” at the facility would be a 90-day, court-ordered commitment program with a $2 million one-time cost and $1.1 million ongoing.

Rabago put the price of the girls’ camp concept at $3.2 million, and said programming also would focus on developing the girls’ personal strengths, discipline, bonding and accountability.

He said the department wouldn’t be implementing the grand jury’s recommendation because “it’s not warranted or it’s not reasonable.”

Programs that work well for boys don’t necessarily work well for girls, he said.

“Probation data does not support a camp program for girls, even if the funding could be redirected as a commitment program,” he told the board. “We believe that the girls should be kept in the most home-like environment.”

Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf asserted that the Probation Department had not fully investigated opportunities for an “out-of-institutional” and “residential, high-treatment setting” for girls, calling the department’s decision incredibly disappointing.

The board directed Probation and other departments to work more closely and further study residential treatment programs.

Isla Vista Community Services District

The clock will soon be ticking for the Board of Supervisors and UC Santa Barbara to appoint members to the governing board of Isla Vista’s newly created community services district.

Five of the seven members were elected by I.V. residents in November, when the community voted for partial self-governance. The supervisors and UCSB’s chancellor are required to name the other two.

The county, however, typically can’t post that it’s looking to fill a vacancy before 20 days prior to the vacancy’s opening — technically March 1, when the CSD is officially formed.

The posting must then be followed by a recruiting period of at least 10 days, Deputy County Executive Officer Dennis Bozanich said at the supervisors’ Tuesday meeting. After that, the board can consider its crop of candidates.

Isla Vista Community Services District board member Ethan Bertrand says he hopes the county Board of Supervisors’ choice for the board will be knowledgeable about both I.V. and county government. Click to view larger
Isla Vista Community Services District board member Ethan Bertrand says he hopes the county Board of Supervisors’ choice for the board will be knowledgeable about both I.V. and county government. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

I.V.’s decades-long dream of self-governance came as close to reality as it ever has when residents voted overwhelmingly for Measure E — the creation of a CSD — with 87.3 percent of the vote.

Although it’s not incorporation, the CSD’s governing board is authorized to provide and fund a variety of services that traditionally have been taken care of by the county.

“It’s hard to get 87 percent of anybody to agree on anything,” said First District Supervisor Das Williams, whose 2015 bill in the Legislature kicked off the CSD creation process.

“That’s representative of a pretty amazing consensus about the need for local governance in Isla Vista.”

A crucial utility-user tax that would provide most of its funding, however, fell just short of the two-thirds margin needed to pass.

Winning the inaugural seats on Nov. 8 were UCSB students Spencer Brandt and Natalie Jordan, software developer Jay Freeman, I.V. Recreation and Parks District director Ethan Bertrand and Rev. Jon-Stephen Hedges, pastor of St. Athanasius Orthodox Church.

Isla Vista Community Services District board member Spencer Brandt speaks to the Board of Supervisors, which will appoint one member of the CSD’s governing board. Click to view larger
Isla Vista Community Services District board member Spencer Brandt speaks to the Board of Supervisors, which will appoint one member of the CSD’s governing board. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Bozanich said that normally the county-appointed board member must come from the district itself, though the supervisors could waive that requirement, something they appeared ready to do.

“I’d like to get the broadest applicant pool that we can,” said Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann, who represents Isla Vista on the board.

Resident or not, the CSD’s elected board members expressed their desire for someone intimately familiar with their community.

“I believe it is of the utmost importance to the long-term success of our district that this person be someone who is well-versed in Isla Vista issues, and is fully capable of representing the county in a decision-making capacity,” Brandt told the supervisors Tuesday.

One of the CSD’s first challenges, he added, will be finding a full-time general manager.

Bertrand said the CSD board’s top service priorities include enhancing community policing services, operating a municipal advisory council, funding graffiti abatement and contributing to the operation of the Isla Vista community center, which he noted is slated to open this summer.

The failed utility-user tax, which would have exempted low-income households and UCSB, would have applied to services that include electricity, gas, water and sewage/trash, and would have generated an estimated $512,000 a year.

I.V. has until Jan. 1, 2023, to pass the tax, or the CSD will be dissolved.

UCSB had pledged $200,000 every year from 2017 to 2024 — money that Williams said the university will allow for CSD services but not staffing or administrative costs.

Brandt said he and his colleagues plan to form a funding committee to explore grants and other revenue streams to loosen the financial pinch.

George Thurlow, special assistant to Chancellor Henry Yang for Isla Vista affairs, told Noozhawk that Yang is still working on his own appointment, but will likely make it before the CSD’s first meeting.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman 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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