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A Community Center for Isla Vista


We would like the SBCC Board of Trustees to direct its representative to the Oversight Committee to support the Board of Supervisors’ position on this issue for the mandated October 26 report to the state regarding the dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies.

Isla Vista had a community center in the mid ‘70s, although it belonged to the Isla Vista Medical Clinic. As a result of the health-care crisis in America, the Isla Vista Clinic merged with two Santa Barbara clinics to form Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (SBNC). After a few years, the building was sold to keep SBNC afloat, and Isla Vista’s community center was lost.

At the time, this didn’t seem so disastrous because the County Redevelopment Agency (RDA) in Isla Vista planned to build a community center, but because of the state’s fiscal crisis, the RDA was dissolved.

We would like the SBCC Board of Trustees to understand that:

1. A lot of SBCC students live in Isla Vista, about 2,000-3,000.

2. The county’s recent study found that Isla Vista is one of four major poverty areas in the county, even after excluding 16- to 24-year-old residents from its analysis.

2. Isla Vista needs a community center — a Harvard study says it makes a town safer. Isla Vista is the only town in the county without a community center.

3. The issue now before the county and the agencies that contributed to funding the RDA with Isla Vista property tax monies is what to do with the RDA’s assets, including the building that houses the fully operating Isla Vista Clinic and a vacated church — both in the center of town, which is mostly a park owned by the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District.

4. There is a strong movement in Isla Vista to make these two buildings the town’s much needed community center. Over 20 people spoke at the Board of Supervisors’ September 17 meeting in favor of keeping these buildings as a community clinic and making the two buildings the town’s much-needed community center.

5. The Board of Supervisors at its September 17 meeting voted to keep these two buildings and designate them for “government usage.” The only other option (under state law for the dissolution of RDA assets) was to put them up for sale. A major reason given was that the new Affordable Care Act more-or-less requires there to be a clinic in Isla Vista, and this is the cheapest option to provide that service.

6. The agencies that contributed to funding the RDA meet as the so-called Oversight Committee on September 30 and make a final recommendation at their October 14 meeting to concur or disagree with the supervisors’ plan. That body could recommend that the buildings be sold. Recommendations by both bodies must be submitted to the state on October 26.

7. Does your board know what’s at stake for SBCC financially and how its representative on the Oversight Committee will vote on October 14?

8. Has SBCC’s representative on the oversight Committee changed because Brian Fahnestock no longer works for SBCC? Can the Trustee representing Isla Vista become the SBCC representative on the Oversight Committee?

We would like the SBCC trustees to direct their representative to the Oversight Committee to support the Board of Supervisors’ position on this issue for the October 26 report to the State.

We understand that, according to the state rules for dissolving RDAs, the county and the Oversight Committee still have the option of selling the buildings in January 2015 if a plan to keep the buildings for government use is not realized.

So, what we’re really asking for is some time to again buy the Isla Vista Clinic building and also the church building to make them the town’s community center.

Frank Thompson and Carmen Lodise are former elected officials in Isla Vista who are involved in the current campaign to create a community center but who are speaking only for themselves here.

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