Legislation sponsored by Assembly member Das Williams ’99, that creates a Community Services District in Isla Vista, has passed the state Assembly on a 41-23 party line vote. The legislation now moves on to the state Senate where it will be heard by the Senate Government and Finance Committee.
As currently written the legislation would allow a CSD in Isla Vista to levy a utility users tax to pay for community programs, tenant relations, parking enforcement and planning. It would consist of a 7 member board with five being elected and two each being appointed by the county of Santa Barbara and UC Santa Barbara. Voters would have to approve the utility users tax in a special election.
The CSD district boundaries currently include both student housing along El Colegio road and the main UCSB campus. Representatives of the UC Office of the President are currently discussing removing the campus from the CSD.
The legislation has run into stiff opposition from the Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) and the special districts association of California. Both decry the end run around LAFCO, which traditionally has the power to create special districts but does not have the power to set the size of an elected board or empower CSD’s to levy utility users’ taxes. In the past LAFCO has repeatedly denied efforts at self-government for Isla Vista and voted against including Isla Vista in the formation of the city of Goleta.
The legislation must pass the Senate prior to Sept. 11, according to Williams’ office.
The annual unsanctioned street party dubbed Deltopia came and went without the arrests and civil unrest that marked past celebrations.
More than 300 police were on hand for the April 4 event in Isla Vista, which began several years ago as an unsanctioned beach event called Floatopia. The event created so much ocean pollution and near drownings that the county closed the beach for the annual event and it moved onto Del Playa, thus the name Deltopia.
This year the number of participants dropped by half, as UC Santa Barbara students and the campus administration used social media to discourage out of town partiers. Total arrests and citations dropped from 320 last year to 242 in 2015. Law enforcement representatives were particularly pleased that the number of medical emergencies in Isla Vista plummeted from 50 last year to just 9 this year.
In addition the UC Santa Barbara administration underwrote a day of on-campus events including an evening concert that drew many students out of Isla Vista.
Members of both the UC Santa Barbara Police Department and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department were honored for their actions during the mass shooting that occurred May 23, 2015.
In a ceremony May 3 at the Isla Vista Theater, Sheriff Bill Brown awarded Medals of Valor to Sgt. Brad Welch, and Deputies Adrien Marquez, Brian Flick, Jorden Walker and Wayne Johnson. They were the officers who chased shooter Elliot Rodger on foot and fired enough shots at him that he was disabled and crashed his car. He then took his own life.
Brown said that had the officers not reacted as they did the bloodshed in Isla Vista would have been horrific. The Sheriff has only awarded the Medal of Valor one of other time during his tenure in office.
At the same ceremony, UCSB Police Chief Dustin Olsen awarded police valor citations to Sgt. Daniel Wilson, Corporals Gregory Pierce and Jeffery Lupo and Officer Tyler Oldread, who all ran towards Rodger’s gunshots.
The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on June 10 approved a $480,000 grant that will be used to rehabilitate the former Isla Vista Orthodox church into a community center. The church had been purchased by the Isla Vista Redevelopment Agency but when it was dissolved with other redevelopment agencies in California the property was in limbo.
The Board of Supervisors last year agreed to maintain ownership of the building while allowing local community groups to manage it. The grant was supported by a number of community groups and UC Santa Barbara.
The Supervisors also approved a grant to allow the Sheriff’s Department to hire a community services officer to work in Isla Vista.
A new memorial garden in People’s Park was dedicated in early May and then hosted a one-year anniversary remembrance of the Isla Vista shootings in May 2014.
Almost 1,000 students and community members attended a “blue light” march from Storke Plaza to People’s Park on May 23. The marchers carried small blue lights in memory of the six UCSB students who lost their lives on that date.
The parents of three of the victims spoke to the large crowd and urged them to improve Isla Vista and bring an end to hatred and violence in the community.