Locals will have their chance to respond to a county policy that restricts permits for sloshball and other large, organized sporting events in Isla Vista’s county-owned parks at a meeting of the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District tomorrow night.
After opening the issue to public debate, the IVRPD Board of Directors, which manages county-owned parks in Isla Vista, will consider responding to the policy, set by the Santa Barbara County Parks Dept. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the IVRPD office, located at 961 Embarcadero del Mar.
The policy currently prohibits the IVRPD from issuing park permits for any events with more than 75 people, amplified sound, organized sporting matches and events that combine sports and alcohol, such as sloshball. Both Sea Lookout Park – commonly known as Dog Shit Park – and Isla Vista Park, also called Volleyball Park, would be affected by the guidelines. The guidelines have existed for some time, but were only recently brought to the attention of the IVRPD, which then began enforcing them.
IVRPD Director Bryan Brown said the IVRPD will decide whether it wants to take a position on the County’s guidelines after hearing public input on the issue. He said the board might consider working with the county to revise the policy so it meets the needs of both local officials and residents.
“Ultimately, we’d like to negotiate an arrangement where we could keep sloshball in some capacity in Sea Lookout Park,” Brown said. “But ultimately it is County Parks’ decision. We hope this will all resolve so everyone can be happy.”
Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Brooks Firestone said he thinks the county is entirely willing to work with the IVRPD to find a solution that would be both safe and satisfactory to everyone.
“I’m not crazy about recreational sports that have, as one of their criteria, drinking alcohol,” Firestone said. “Obviously I’m not against drinking alcohol in general, but if we’re talking about sloshball, I’m just interested to see what the people think at this point.”
Kris Miller-Fisher, director of special projects for Firestone’s office, said she will attend tomorrow’s IVRPD meeting. She said Firestone’s office was initially surprised by the letter the IVRPD received from the County Parks Dept. but said she has since spoken with local law enforcement and university officials about the use guidelines. She said most officials said they felt the policy was reasonable to enforce.
“I think it’s the combination of sports and alcohol that concerns people,” Miller-Fisher said. “Alcohol permits in the park seem reasonable, but it’s when it is combined with the aggression and competition of sports – that has raised concerns in the past.”
One particular event cited by those who support the policy, Miller-Fisher said, was the November 2005 fight that occurred between a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity during a game of kickball in Sea Lookout Park.
“That’s the one that has come up as a recent example,” Miller-Fisher said.
Kelly Burns, Associated Students external vice president of local affairs, said she understands local officials’ concerns about drinking in the parks, but she said it is important that community members have somewhere to go for recreational activities.
“I feel our parks are one of the greatest assets of our community in general,” Burns said. “As long as laws aren’t being broken, people should be out there, having fun and hanging out.”
Burns said she hopes students and local community members who are concerned about the policy will come to the meeting.
“I think it’s important for people to come out to this meeting and say what they think – if they think they should have these rights in their parks,” Burns said.