Isla Vista Community Center
The opening of the Isla Vista Community Center was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the 2020-21 audit of spending by the Isla Vista Community Services District. (Grace Kitayama / Noozhawk photo)

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Isla Vista Community Services District spent the majority of its budget on public safety and community programs.

The district was formed in 2016. In 2018, the community approved Measure R, which established a utility-user tax for the district to establish its own source of revenue.

The Isla Vista Community Services District recently published an audit of its 2020-21 year, which was the fourth year of operations for the organization.

According to its website, “The Isla Vista Community Services District aims to improve the resources available to the community, ensure a high quality of life and level of public safety, and provide a local voice to the people of Isla Vista. The district will work to prioritize community engagement as it delivers localized public services and maximizes the resources available to the community.”

The district has eight programs — Reserves, Operations, Community Programs, Housing, Public Safety, Parking, Public Works and Graffiti Abatement, and Community Planning, according to the district’s budget report for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

During the pandemic, spending on several services was reduced because of a delay of in-person events and staffing shortages as well as the delayed opening of the Isla Vista Community Center, which opened in January 2022, according to a Daily Nexus article.

Public safety represented the highest area of spending for the district, according to a discussion of the audit written by IVCSD General Manager Jonathan Abboud. That includes funding for the Isla Vista Safety Stations, and the Interpersonal Violence and Sexual Assault and Investigation Prevention Program with UC Santa Barbara’s Police Department. However, the Safety Stations were not fully operational during the year.

The second-largest area of spending was on community programs such as food distribution and community activities for youths, according to Abboud.

The district also spent money on rent for suites in the multipurpose facility on Embarcadero Del Mar.

Other programs funded under the district included the Community Garden at United Methodist Church; the Compost Collective, which offers composting services and pickup from residences in Isla Vista; Isla Vista Beautiful, which is a program dedicated to beautification projects in the district such as graffiti removal and street repairs; and the Rental Housing Mediation Program, which is a free service that offers services to solve housing disputes in the district.

The district recorded about $1.2 million in revenue and spent $700,000 in the 2020-21 fiscal year. It had a year-end fund balance of $1.6 million. Of that balance, $112,014 is for programs funded by UCSB, $942,000 will be put in the district’s reserves and $577,001 were unassigned.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, two full-time and 14 part-time temporary employees were hired during the start of the fiscal year and worked throughout the year while permanent hiring took place.

Looking forward, the district will be heading into a year without a pandemic-related State of Emergency, according to Abboud. At the most recent board meeting, Abboud said that the State of Emergency is set to end Feb. 28, after which the district will have to reassess its spending limit.

Noozhawk staff writer Grace Kitayama can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.