Madeleine Lee and Shomik Mukherjee
Campus Beat Reporter and Executive Managing Editor
At the third meeting of the year, Isla Vista Community Service District Board members continued to iron out internal issues while addressing alternatives to the elephant in the room — the district’s lack of public funding.
Proposed in November alongside the voter-approved Measure E that established IVCSD officially in March of this year, Measure F, the legislation that sought to establish a utilities’ tax for all IV residents, fell short of the required two-thirds approval by more than four percent. At Tuesday’s meeting, board members appeared hopeful that funding for future programs could be raised through different avenues.
Board member Robert Geis argued in favor of private donations as a potential source of impactful funding, referring to the restoration and renovation of the Santa Barbara Bowl as an example.
“That place was a dump twenty years ago, and they raised millions of dollars and that place is now one gorgeous public facility,” said Geis at Tuesday’s meeting. “So all things are possible for us as a small organization to get somebody like Virgil Elings or some graduate that had a great time at Isla Vista that wants to put money back in here.”
Though board members agreed that the Santa Barbara Bowl, which raised approximately $38 million through the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, is a prime example of effective large-scale fundraising, the possibilities for numerous smaller donations were also taken into account. Former UCSB alumni and SBCC Board of Trustee Vice President Jonathan Abboud, working with the Isla Vista Community Development Corporation, posed several suggestions from IVCDC, including campaigning during alumni events, phone banking, seeking grants from local organizations like the Santa Barbara Foundation and Neighborhoods Funders Group, and improving resident outreach.
“For this, imagine an electoral campaign but the ask is not to register to vote, it’s to pay your tax voluntarily,” said Abboud. “So you go knock on people’s doors and say let’s see how much the tax would have been, and let’s take eight percent of that and commit it to the next month, three months, or the whole year.”
Though Secretary of the Board Spencer Brandt expressed excitement over Abboud’s fundraising strategies, Geis expressed worry that the potential voluntary tax contribution collected by the IV Community Development Corporation would interfere with the district’s ongoing plans to implement a permanent tax. Even if the district is able to acquire private funding, Geis noted that recording those donations – both large and small – would require clear definitions on donation classifications, types, and limits. Director Jay Freeman echoed that need for firmer policies on donation definitions, pointing to the board’s personal contributions of office supplies and things of that nature.
In addition to financial kinks, board members continued to work out their own disagreements. Discussion briefly flared up at Tuesday’s meeting when Freeman proposed adding a “structure” to how future contracts and agreements between the CSD and UCSB will be discussed. Freeman attached a letter to the agenda item in which he explained why he had abstained from voting on a proposed agreement between the CSD and the university regarding an internship program.
Ultimately, the directors could not agree on how to develop policy on the spot to reflect Freeman’s request for structure. Even Freeman said he was not interested in simply making the matter a policy issue, noting he had written in the letter that he did “not believe there are easy answers to these questions.” All the same, the board agreed to push Freeman’s item to the policy committee to further discuss the matter.
Brandt told The Bottom Line after the meeting that he thought Freeman’s call for structure was “out of line” with the attached letter. But Brandt praised his fellow “ideologically diverse” directors, emphasizing the need for conversation.
“I’m glad people get passionate about this,” Brandt said. “This is government; the decisions we make are important.”