Since its founding in the 1970s, the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District board of directors has been just about the only local governing entity the community has known.
The district looks after the 25 parks scattered around one of the most densely populated half-square-mile areas in the state.
But in an outdoors-oriented community often in need of new or repaired amenities, the district typically has little, if any, money at the end of the year for capital projects, maintenance or new recreation programs.
On May 9, the IVRPD will be asking Isla Vistans to approve Measure O, which would levy a special parcel tax on property owners that would provide the district with an estimated $256,000 annually for a separate fund exclusively for capital projects, deferred maintenance, infrastructure and new cultural and recreation programming.
Two bonds the IVRPD used to acquire more parkland were consolidated into one in 1999, and property owners have been paying that bond off since.
The district’s completion of its bond repayment means that the revenue, which has gone exclusively to the bond, will be gone.
The tax proposed for next month’s special election would levy the same rates property owners have been paying toward the bond: $0.7185 per square foot for non-residential units and $28.75 per bedroom on a parcel for residential units.
The tax would go into effect Nov. 1 if two-thirds of voters approve it with their mail-in ballots.
According to IVRPD General Manager Rodney Gould, parcels built after the bond haven’t put anything toward its repayment, meaning they would be the only ones that would feel the financial difference if the tax passes.
Though he’s heard of a few individuals who are against the tax, Gould said he’s unaware of any active opposition to it.
“Largely, it’s really well embraced,” he told Noozhawk. “The people I speak with are very supportive.”
The district board has its eyes on a slew of potential projects, including new park lighting, tables and benches, barbecue areas, new bathrooms, signage and additional employees for programs.
It also wants to chip away at a backlog of deferred maintenance, including sprucing up parks, fumigating and repairing some of its buildings, putting up fences and restoring pathways.
The board’s priorities “are based largely on the community’s priorities,” Gould said.
And toward the top is a recycled-water project.
“I think the regionally responsible thing to do is to put in the recycled water so that we’re not using potable water to irrigate the parks,” he said. “Even though we’ve had a good year of rain, this drought is here to stay.”
The IVRPD has also heard plenty of support for a fenced-in dog park and a skate park.
Gould noted that the tax could also be leveraged for new grants that would further augment the fund.
Currently, capital projects are largely accomplished through partnerships with student and community organizations.
But the tax, Gould said, “will give us a little more control over what we do.”
Ballots for the election must be post-marked by May 9, or dropped off at the county elections office at 4440-A Calle Real by 8 p.m. that day.
Click here for more information about Measure O from the Santa Barbara County Elections Office.