Santa Barbara County and UCSB announced plans to make Isla Vista a safer place – including a policy that will send a letter to mom and dad for drug and alcohol related offenses – at a town hall meeting last night.
Third District Supervisor Gail Marshall, her assistant Mark Chaconas, Sheriff’s Dept. Commander Deborah Linden and Dean of Students Yonie Harris led the meeting to assess community interest in the proposed ordinances.
The Parental Notification Program, which will go into effect Fall Quarter 2002, will send the parents of UCSB students arrested for alcohol or drug-related offenses a letter to notify them of the arrest. The letter, according to university officials, is meant to “spark discussion.” The administration of the program will be a joint effort between the county, the Sheriff’s Dept. and the university.
Harris said the program was inspired from a similar one at the University of Rhode Island, where the incidences of drug and alcohol offenses have decreased significantly since its implementation.
“We have high hopes,” she said. “We want to be able to ensure safety for our students and despite some good work … our rate of high-risk drinking has increased.”
The program does not apply to graduate students or to students who seek medical attention because of drug or alcohol use.
“We don’t want to have the parental program as a discouragement to people who need medical attention,” Harris said. “We don’t want a roommate or somebody not to call the ambulance so their friend doesn’t get in trouble.”
I.V. Property Manager Joel Silverman said he wished there was some way that Santa Barbara City College students would also be held accountable to their parents. Harris said although the college supports the ordinance, they don’t have the resources or the authority to implement it.
Commander Linden announced at the meeting that the Sheriff’s Dept. plans to present the County Board of Supervisors with new party ordinances to increase safety. The new ordinance would give deputies the ability to declare “out of control” parties a public nuisance and shut them down. Parties where kegs are visible from the roadway or parties where more than three criminal behaviors are taking place are subject to the new ordinance.
“We have no desire to stop partying in I.V.,” she said. “We just want to keep things safe and keep things from getting out of control.”
The ordinance would not penalize the hosts of the party, Linden said, because the hosts are often thankful to the I.V. Foot Patrol for stepping in.
“Fights break out, people go off cliffs, its an unsafe situation,” she said. “It’s meant to get people out of the houses who aren’t supposed to be there. That’s why we don’t want the kegs visible from the streets – it attracts people.”
Linden said the Board of Supervisors would also be presented with an ordinance that would allow deputies to specifically cite a person urinating in public. Currently, offenders are cited for a hazardous waste violation, which starts at about $600. Linden said the fine is too expensive for college students and overly harsh.
“The [ordinance] right now is stop the disposal of hazardous waste so the judges have little leeway with sentencing,” she said. “This way it can be a misdemeanor and it may even be able to be cleared up with community service.”
UCSB student and Alcohol and Other Drugs Council member Michelle Oberon said the council fully supports the new ordinances.
“It is creating prevention that is so essential to safety here,” she said. “As a student the main thing I find attractive is that it’s not out to get students, it’s out to help them.”