Community News

Measure R for an ECO Vista!
John Foran

On Tuesday, June 5, UCSB students – those registered to vote and ready to show up or mail in their ballots – have the opportunity to enable the transition from the problem-plagued paradise that we all call Isla Vista today toward the model ecovillage of the future that some residents and their allies are starting to call Eco Vista.
On the ballot, after long lists of Democrats and other hopefuls for state and local office (one to watch is Gayle McLaughlin, former Green Party mayor of Richmond, California, who is running for Lieutenant-Governor as an independent), after getting through the confusing ballot initiatives about regulating cannabis and so forth, will arrive at last at their chance to make local history and build community independence and political power – Measure R.

As in “R Isla Vista” – the whimsical name adopted by some of those who are campaigning for a “yes” vote. A vote for Measure R would mean that the newly established Isla Vista Community Services District (CSD) will be able to fund its vision (hopefully your vision, the desires of the residents) for their community. A vote against puts the autonomy of Isla Vista in jeopardy, as the CSD will disappear as an institution for Isla Vista self-governance unless it passes a funding measure between now and the end of 2022.
In November 2016 when Isla Vista voters established the CSD by an overwhelmingly positive vote of 87.5 percent, the accompanying measure to give it a budget received only 62.5 percent – it needed then, and it needs now, a two-thirds majority to become law.
Measure R is the first opportunity since then to make the CSD a permanent body with a stable budget source. It would do so through an eight percent tax on electricity, gas, and water/trash bills paid by homeowners, businesspeople, and renters or their landlords (depending who pays for these utilities).

IV’s landlords oppose the measure and promise (or threaten) to pass the cost directly or indirectly onto their tenants, already strapped by the overcrowded, over-priced, sub-standard conditions of their apartments (this is not my opinion, it is the finding of a survey the CSD did that almost 500 residents responded to).
By my calculations the increase in your monthly utility bill might run on the order of an extra $3.20 to $4 a month per person (if you each now pay, say $20 on electricity and an average of say $20-30 a month on gas, water, and trash collection). There is even a reduction built into the measure for tenants who cannot afford to pay this amount!
Is it worth giving up the equivalent of less than one S***bucks coffee a month to have local self-governance? To use some of the estimated $600,000 that Isla Vistans would have in annual revenues for better lighting, parking, roads, sidewalks, safety, parks, tenant safeguards, and community events? To be more resilient in food gardens, renewable energy, locally-run businesses, and more cooperative housing? For that is the Eco Vista vision, which you can find here: ecovistaproject.com.
That decision is up to you. The future belongs to those who can imagine it.

 

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