Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, held a Town Hall in Isla Vista on Thursday night to discuss his legislation, Assembly Bill 3, to create self- governance for IV.
This was the first of three planned Town Halls.
“AB 3 is a vehicle to create some form of self-governance for Isla Vista,” Williams said. “We will continue to work closely with the community to identify the unique needs of Isla Vista and how to address those needs to best serve the area. Self-governance has been a hot topic in IV for over 40 years with many attempts at achieving some form of self-governance coming and going over the years.”
Isla Vista is a community of over 20,000 people situated within an area of less than one square mile, making it one of the most densely populated urban areas not within a city. Governance of large urban populations typically includes more direct representation that focuses on public safety, utilities, and includes mechanisms for pedestrian safety such as street lights and sidewalks.
These services are typically funded through the issuance of revenue bonds, taxes, or special assessments, which is not currently possible to apply only to Isla Vista under the current government structure. If the County were to issue such bonds, taxes, or assessments, it would have to apply to all the unincorporated areas of the County.
The goal of the Services Town Hall was to gain community feedback on what services and powers should be included in self-governance for Isla Vista and determine alternative solutions to increase and improve services in IV.
Williams discussed the history of IV self-governance including the three attempts of cityhood, and most currently the redevelopment agency and project area committee that served IV from 1990- 2012.
Currently the bill only includes intent language, meaning it simply states that we intend to create a community service district through the legislature, and is awaiting more detailed language to be referred to a policy committee in the legislature.
Since introducing the bill and coming into the Town Hall, Williams’ staff has held 20 group meetings and 25 meetings with individuals to begin gathering feedback about specifics of the bill. These meetings are in addition to the two town halls held by the community prior to the introduction of legislation. There have been discussions on what services are working in IV, what is delivered well but needs to be increased, and what needs a complete overhaul.
One of the main topics of the night was transportation and housing in Isla Vista. Attendees discussed the need for expanded transportation, including an increase in direct lines from Isla Vista to other remote segments of the community. In regards to housing, Isla Vista residents that attended the Town Hall mentioned the need for increasing the availability of affordable housing and a rent board or rental housing mediation taskforce.
Creating a CSD would allow IV to have local control over a set amount of services and would allow the community to vote to tax themselves, if they desired, to provide more of these determined services. In addition, creating a CSD through the legislature will have a greater flexibility to meeting IV’s needs, such as ensuring the diversity of the community is represented in the board that governs the district and that it has the ability to levy a tax that is fair to all residents of IV.
The next Town Hall that will be focused on “Paying for Services” is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 21 at Anisq’ Oyo’ Park Amphitheater, 950 Embarcadero Del Mar in Isla Vista.
— Anett Hurtado is a field representative for Assemblyman Das Williams.