Santa Barbara County Retains Isla Vista Assets For Use As Community Center


Julia Frazer
Staff Writer

The Long-Range Property Management Plan for the County of Santa Barbara Successor Agency in Isla Vista was approved by the California Department of Finance on Friday, Feb. 21. It will allow the county to keep three properties previously owned by the Redevelopment Agency in Isla Vista.

The three properties, known as the Church Building (976 Embarcadero del Mar), Clinic Building (970 Embarcadero del Mar), and Solar Car Park (881 Embarcadero del Mar) will now be under local control. Because the parcels of the Church and Clinic buildings are adjacent, many community members have discussed turning the space into an Isla Vista Community Center.

When the Redevelopment Agency was dissolved in 2011, the properties were left in a limbo. According to an article from California Watch, redevelopment agencies gave local governments ability to capture a greater share of property taxes. California Watch argues that through the end of redevelopment agencies, the state has effectively seized control of billions of dollars of property taxes previously controlled by the cities that established redevelopment agencies.

“All of the sudden, the state and those cities affected had to figure out what to do with all those properties [that used to be owned by the Redevelopment Agency],” said Associated Students External Vice President of Local Affairs Alex Moore. “To keep that property, the California Department of Finance had to approve the property’s transfer from the Redevelopment Agency to the county government in charge of that property.”

Moore explained that the Department of Finance very rarely allows the county to retain properties in situations like these. Many times, communities have been forced to sell the properties.

“By approving our Long-Range Management Plan, the state is approving the use of the property by Santa Barbara County for the community,” said Moore. “That’s why it’s such a big victory.”

According to a press release, Supervisor Doreen Farr is satisfied with the decision to allow the properties to remain under County control.

“These assets will continue to provide well-needed public services in the Isla Vista community,” said Farr.

In addition to Farr’s backing, the plan was also supported from other California leaders, including Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson and Assembly Member Das Williams.

“I spent part of my youth in Isla Vista, so saving these buildings was of extreme importance to me,” said Williams. “These properties belong in the hands of the County, and most importantly, the community members who use them. We can now work together to decide how these buildings work best for the community.”

According to Moore, an IV needs assessment survey has been created to see what students want in a community center. Moore believes community space for organizations and community events would be a key asset to the community.

Fourth-year Alicia Patterson believes a community center is a much-needed resource.

“With all the students and families that live in IV, even professors, there definitely needs to be a place where people can build community,” said Patterson.

Moore argues that a community center in Isla Vista has been a long time coming. He forecasted a fight to fund the future community center, but ultimately expressed optimism that the community center would be a reality within a few years.

“If we want to see improvements in IV culture and IV health in the community,” said Moore, “we need these spaces and we need students to fight for these spaces.”