Just a handful of hurdles remain for a state bill that aims to give Isla Vista residents the power to govern themselves via a Community Services District.
The California Assembly on Wednesday passed AB3 with a 41-23 vote, sending the bill on to a Senate policy committee. If it passes out of the full higher chamber by September, the bill will go to the governor for his signature.
Assemblyman Das Williams introduced AB3 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.
The bill had to pass off the Assembly floor by Friday to stay alive and continue moving through the legislative process in 2015, and Williams was happy to share the news two days early.
“AB3 embodies the hard work and determination of the residents of Isla Vista,” he said in a statement issued from Sacramento. “After 45 years of attempts to form a more representative government, including three failed cityhood attempts, it is time to let the people of Isla Vista develop an effective form of self-governance.
“This measure has gone through an intensive stakeholder process to ensure it meets the unique needs of the community of Isla Vista. Only the Legislature has the power to create this type of district. AB3 is necessary and will fundamentally address the issue of public safety, stabilizing the current conditions which have led this community to a breaking point.”
The Isla Vista CSD differs from typical districts because stakeholders hope to implement a Utility User Tax to financially support the CSD, imposing a tax for utility services consumed like electricity, gas, water, sewer, sanitation and cable television.
Residents also wanted a CSD to be able to implement a tenant mediation program, contract for additional police services and to exercise the powers of a parking district.
Because some of those services don’t exist under current CSD law, the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission could not authorize creating the CSD like it usually does.
Local officials remain split on whether AB3 is the right path for self-governance in Isla Vista, but nearly all agree the community should have more control over its own destiny.
AB3 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.
If AB3 is signed into law this October, the 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.
Williams continues to host community meetings about AB3 specifics every Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. in the IV Clinic building conference room at 970 Embarcadero Del Mar.
— Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.