So much for spontaneity.
Last Thursday, the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) approved an ordinance that prohibits alcohol consumption in nearly all local parks unless drinkers obtain a permit beforehand. While IVRPD board members have stated that the permit program will eliminate alcohol-spawned problems associated with homeless I.V. residents, the program instead has quashed the joy of spending a spontaneous, leisurely day in the park with a friend and a six-pack.
Yes, you can still drink in a park, but under this new ordinance, it can never again be a last-minute break. Instead, would-be drinkers must fetch the proper paperwork from the IVRPD office, pay $10-35 for groups larger than 10 people – and then deliver the paperwork to the I.V. Foot Patrol office before enjoying a brewski on the lawns of Perfect Park.
IVRPD, you killed the romance.
But more importantly, the permit program imposes undue alcohol restrictions on all I.V. residents without solving any of the problems the IVRPD wants to fix. Ideally, the permits would eliminate the presence of homeless people whose drinking allegedly renders the parks unusable for people who sleep with a roof over their heads.
Students might recall that the IVRPD banned overnight camping in local parks in March 2002. Yet anyone walking through I.V. can easily observe homeless camping in local parks – Pardall Gardens in particular. In that vein, one could assume this new ordinance will be similarly impotent.
So then why care, right?
Unfortunately, a more conservative IVRPD Board of Directors could use the program to curb drinking altogether by targeting students as well as the “chronic inebriates” that inspired the ban.
Additionally, laws already prohibit many forms of bad behavior. If homeless park-dwellers are truly causing such a ruckus, then police should be able to arrest them for these infringements, not lure them into prison with a maze of paperwork technicalities.
Finally, if the IVRPD insists on regulating drinking with a wall of paperwork, they could at least attempt to make obtaining the permits easier.
Ten dollars for four hours of public drinking is too expensive. The cost of buying a permit could be better spent on trotting to the liquor store and buying more beer, and then drinking indoors. Inside at least has fewer ants and mosquitoes. Much as board member Diane Conn advised during Thursday’s meeting, the IVRPD would better encourage students to enjoy the parks responsibly by lowering the cost of the alcohol permits.
And since alcohol permits need to be approved by the IVFP after being purchased at the IVRPD, drinkers must crisscross I.V. before they can finally enjoy themselves. The IVRPD could at least eliminate one of these stops – that is if they really want us to get to the park after all.