Flavor of the Month: Why It’s Suddenly Trendy to “Care” About Isla Vista

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Mathew Burciaga
Layout Editor

In 2003, the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury issued a report titled “Isla Vista: Take Charge” that aimed to raise awareness of the myriad issues that plague IV. Most notably, it called for the creation of a Community Service District as a means to address the shortcomings of residential life. As laid out in the document, the CSD would have created a political organization solely responsible for increasing the quality of life by providing essential and often underfunded services directly to IV residents. The report framed the issue as necessitating immediate action, yet here we are—12 years later—considering the same solution for the unchanged problems.

Anyone championing Assembly Bill 3, Assemblymember Das Williams’ self-governance bill, as the end-all and be-all solution for seemingly every problem in IV is misguided. As it currently stands, AB 3 is a half-baked attempt at changing the status quo and addressing the issues residents need. The bill is months away from being finished; there is no finalized language regarding the specific powers the CSD would have, structure of its board, or even the means to finance it.

AB 3 has already caused headaches for many people. Most notably, this legislation attempts to supplant the authority of the Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission. LAFCO is responsible for the review and approval of the formation of any special districts within Santa Barbara County, and AB 3 attempts to supersede them by bypassing the standard process with special legislation.

Assemblymember Williams has argued that bypassing the standard process of creating a special district would offer more flexibility in how the district operates. More importantly, this process would require passage of the bill in the California State Assembly as opposed to gathering a petition signed by at least 10 percent of the qualified voters of the proposed district area. I can understand Das’ sense of urgency, especially considering the recent UC Santa Barbara Foundation Trustees’ report that called for establishing a form of self governance, but to rush the creation of a CSD would be disastrous. Creating an ineffective organization would do more harm than good, and the desire to churn out a CSD in three months leaves much to be desired.

The support AB 3 has enjoyed is a result of the massive shift in public mindset during the publication of the Grand Jury report 12 years ago, in addition to the beginning of last school year. Prior to the events of last spring quarter (largely the Deltopia Riots and last May’s tragedy), IV was largely ignored by the student body and greater community. Pockets of people passionate about improving the living conditions for residents of IV existed, but this sense of collective responsibility did not exist.

AB 3 has effectively created an army of servile sycophants. It is increasingly clear that within the current self-governance movement, people are attempting to capitalize on the renewed sense of agency. Many members of the community, greater student body, and quasi-elected officials are head over heels in love with AB 3. They have been more than eager to support it with active mobilization and organization. Some are attempting to try and make a career out of Isla Vista, but their relevance and importance is highly transitory and fading more and more by the day.

We may be on the precipice of true change Isla Vista, but AB 3 is not the way forward. Putting all our eggs in this basket will ultimately hurt us in the long run, and the unwillingness to research or seriously consider potential alternatives will be its downfall.

Mathew Burciaga

Mathew Burciaga is a fourth year History of Public Policy major and recovering member of student government. Joining The Bottom Line in Spring 2014 as a staff photographer, Mathew covered mainly local events and concerts. He joined the Editorial Board as a Layout Editor and was selected Executive Managing Editor in Spring 2015.

While not stressing over his job, Mathew enjoys keeping up with the Kardashian’s and slappin’ da bass.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Matthew, I get what you’re saying, silver bullets to any problem rarely exist, but you missed a huge part of the work that went into this effort before AB3 was even a thing. Just because you weren’t in the room when people were arguing over a huge range of different options doesn’t mean they weren’t discussed.

    And honestly I feel like you missed the opportunity to pin point the problems you see and the direction you’d like things to go by only dumping on AB3 and not using your platform to propose alternative paths forward. It feels like some of this article is written with snark to be edgy and aggressive rather than factually grounded.

  2. I’ve been to lots of IV events, rallies, parties, meetings and rooms and have been participating in both working and wasteful efforts to improve my community since I decided to temporarily move to Isla Vista twenty five years ago. I think this article is well grounded and researched and reasonably well represents the current analysis and general opinion of myself and many of my friends. That is: AB3 smells like the same old stale garbage soiled by the usual rats and roaches; but this time better funded, in a big hurry and dressed in a Sacramento suit.
    I have an additional broader suggestion for those left wondering what’s in play behind the smoke and mirrors and, “Why suddenly all this friggin’ rush to reconfigure and recolonize Isla Vista with a potentially even more uncontrollable and undemocratic structure?”. May I suggest that the concept outlined in Naomi Klein’s timely documentary Shock Doctrine, available on YouTube, is playing out on a local level in Isla Vista now?
    Shall we permit the militaristic over-reaction of police at Deltopia and their under-reaction investigating Elliot Rodger’s mental illness and the disinterested legislators in Sacramento to determine why, when and what we choose for ourselves? Thanks for reading my comment.

  3. February 13, 2015
    Mathew Burciaga,
    You are wrong on many counts here – especially about the lack of interest in Isla Vista and the wider community in making things right for the town.
    It’s true, as you say, that “there is no finalized language regarding the specific powers the CSD would have, structure of its board, or even the means to finance it.” So what’s to criticize? You offer no evidence that the outcome of a process that has just begun will be an “ineffective organization that will do more harm than good.”
    Native son Das Williams is trying to get the ball rolling to something that provides more self-government and citizen responsibility than the current situation – much as the 2002 Grand Jury recommended. However, a traditional CSD relies solely on property taxes for revenue. Although property owners should have to pay for a lot more services in Isla Vista, it means a major political fight with absentee landlords – I.V. is +95% renters – to establish it and perpetual wars to raise taxes for additional services. Plus, it’s unlikely that property taxes alone be enough to give residents control over the policing function, which is what most thoughtful people desire.
    Das Williams has suggested that the major source of revenue to this specialized CSD be a tax on telephone, cable, and other utilities, much like in Santa Barbara and a lot of other cities. This is much more a tax on residents than property. And it’s something the elected board of directors of the IV-CSD can assess.
    You lament that “AB 3 attempts to supersede them (LAFCO) by bypassing the standard process with special legislation.” Well, LAFCO screwed Isla Vista three times on 4-1 votes against cityhood (four Republicans vs. one Democrat) in the ‘70s and ‘80s, then rejected I.V. leaders’ begging to be included within the boundaries of the new City of Goleta 10-12 years ago – even thought all polls said at the time that the such a city including I.V. would be approved by the voters. So, what’s to like about LAFCO? FYI:
    There were many state officials and UC Regents who supported I.V. residents having a vote on forming a city – supporting such a request failed at the Regents by one vote!
    “AB 3 is not the way forward” – again you don’t know that and it’s yet to be shown if it might be. Das is seeking community input on his as-yet-finalized proposal.
    Then you show how shallow your knowledge of Isla Vista is by saying: “Prior to the events of last spring quarter (largely the Deltopia Riots and last May’s tragedy), IV was largely ignored by the student body and greater community.”
    (1). UCSB Associated Students has moved into Isla Vista in the past ten years in a big way, including funding of community projects and agencies and a new outpost on Pardall Rd. Some credit also needs to be given to Josh Plotkin, a recent UCSB graduate, who single-handedly made a CSD option a current issue.
    (2). A.S. was in the leadership of saving two buildings in the center of town for a much-needed community center. Former A.S. vp Alex Moore played a critical role in this campaign and this groundswell of support carried former A.S. president Jonathan Abboud to a seat on the SBCC board of trustees where he – hopefully – will be able to talk about the positive and negative impacts resident SBCC students are having on Isla Vista.
    (3). SBCC and Goleta Union School District Trustees and the Goleta City Council also supported this community center – although it cost all their agencies some revenue.
    (4). Supervisor Farr and before her, Supervisor Gail Marshall, have been supportive of most Isla Vista initiatives.
    But it wasn’t until Assemblymember Das Williams stepped up to suggest a new kind of CSD that there has been a practical path to increased local control and resident-responsibility in Isla Vista.
    And while I agree with The Foot Patrol’s comment about over and under policing, he’s still too cynical about the possibilities of this new CSD.
    Regards,
    Carmen Lodise
    Author, Isla Vista: A Citizen’s History (2008)

    Flavor of the Month: Why It’s Suddenly Trendy to “Care” About Isla Vista
    February 11, 2015 Commentary, Opinions, Political 2 Comments
    Mathew Burciaga
    Layout Editor
    In 2003, the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury issued a report titled “Isla Vista: Take Charge” that aimed to raise awareness of the myriad issues that plague IV. Most notably, it called for the creation of a Community Service District as a means to address the shortcomings of residential life. As laid out in the document, the CSD would have created a political organization solely responsible for increasing the quality of life by providing essential and often underfunded services directly to IV residents. The report framed the issue as necessitating immediate action, yet here we are—12 years later—considering the same solution for the unchanged problems.
    Anyone championing Assembly Bill 3, Assemblymember Das Williams’ self-governance bill, as the end-all and be-all solution for seemingly every problem in IV is misguided. As it currently stands, AB 3 is a half-baked attempt at changing the status quo and addressing the issues residents need. The bill is months away from being finished; there is no finalized language regarding the specific powers the CSD would have, structure of its board, or even the means to finance it.
    AB 3 has already caused headaches for many people. Most notably, this legislation attempts to supplant the authority of the Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission. LAFCO is responsible for the review and approval of the formation of any special districts within Santa Barbara County, and AB 3 attempts to supersede them by bypassing the standard process with special legislation.
    Assemblymember Williams has argued that bypassing the standard process of creating a special district would offer more flexibility in how the district operates. More importantly, this process would require passage of the bill in the California State Assembly as opposed to gathering a petition signed by at least 10 percent of the qualified voters of the proposed district area. I can understand Das’ sense of urgency, especially considering the recent UC Santa Barbara Foundation Trustees’ report that called for establishing a form of self governance, but to rush the creation of a CSD would be disastrous. Creating an ineffective organization would do more harm than good, and the desire to churn out a CSD in three months leaves much to be desired.
    The support AB 3 has enjoyed is a result of the massive shift in public mindset during the publication of the Grand Jury report 12 years ago, in addition to the beginning of last school year. Prior to the events of last spring quarter (largely the Deltopia Riots and last May’s tragedy), IV was largely ignored by the student body and greater community. Pockets of people passionate about improving the living conditions for residents of IV existed, but this sense of collective responsibility did not exist.
    AB 3 has effectively created an army of servile sycophants. It is increasingly clear that within the current self-governance movement, people are attempting to capitalize on the renewed sense of agency. Many members of the community, greater student body, and quasi-elected officials are head over heels in love with AB 3. They have been more than eager to support it with active mobilization and organization. Some are attempting to try and make a career out of Isla Vista, but their relevance and importance is highly transitory and fading more and more by the day.
    We may be on the precipice of true change Isla Vista, but AB 3 is not the way forward. Putting all our eggs in this basket will ultimately hurt us in the long run, and the unwillingness to research or seriously consider potential alternatives will be its downfall.

    1. TheFootPatrol says:
    February 13, 2015 at 1:42 pm
    I’ve been to lots of IV events, rallies, parties, meetings and rooms and have been participating in both working and wasteful efforts to improve my community since I decided to temporarily move to Isla Vista twenty five years ago. I think this article is well grounded and researched and reasonably well represents the current analysis and general opinion of myself and many of my friends. That is: AB3 smells like the same old stale garbage soiled by the usual rats and roaches; but this time better funded, in a big hurry and dressed in a Sacramento suit.
    I have an additional broader suggestion for those left wondering what’s in play behind the smoke and mirrors and, “Why suddenly all this friggin’ rush to reconfigure and recolonize Isla Vista with a potentially even more uncontrollable and undemocratic structure?”. May I suggest that the concept outlined in Naomi Klein’s timely documentary Shock Doctrine, available on YouTube, is playing out on a local level in Isla Vista now?
    Shall we permit the militaristic over-reaction of police at Deltopia and their under-reaction investigating Elliot Rodger’s mental illness and the disinterested legislators in Sacramento to determine why, when and what we choose for ourselves? Thanks for reading my comment.

Comments are closed.