The ordinance banning alcohol from Isla Vista’s beaches will be up for debate again next week.
Following last spring’s Floatopia — which saw 12,000 revelers hit the sand and the bottle — the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an urgency ordinance prohibiting alcohol on the beach from the 6500 to 6800 block of Del Playa Drive, as well as on all beach accesses. The six-month ordinance is set to expire Nov. 5.
According to 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr, a hearing on the issue will most likely be scheduled for the Nov. 3 Board of Supervisors meeting.
“There are three things the Board of Supervisors could do — one being let it expire, or [two,] renew it as an urgency ordinance that would be in effect for another six months, and the third would be to have it be a regular ordinance, which would make it a permanent solution,” Farr said.
Since the ordinance passed in May, approximately 20 citations have been issued for drinking on the beach, according to the Isla Vista Foot Patrol.
As a whole, the ordinance has garnered support from local officials.
First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal said he plans to support an extension of the ordinance.
“I think it’s good for the health of students, it’s good for the health of the community and the safety of the community,” Carbajal said. “It’s very likely that I am going to be voting in favor of extending it, whether it’s six months, a year or permanently.”
According to Lt. Brian Olmstead of the IVFP, the ordinance has addressed several problems, including safety and littering on the beach.
“I think it has been a success,” Olmstead said. “I think the quality of life has improved down on the beach. We have reports from the parks department and different people the beach is cleaner. There aren’t bottles and cans all over that people leave down there.”
The ordinance was initially created in response to last spring’s massive beach party Floatopia, which resulted in several falls from the cliffs, over 33 people visiting the hospital and 25 to 30 rescues from the water, according to Olmstead. County resources had to be reallocated to address the crowds on the beach, leaving some areas devoid of emergency response teams.
Additionally, the trash, alcohol bottles and rafts left on the beach prompted concern from environmental groups.
Both Farr and Olmstead attributed these problems to the fact that Floatopia, like Halloween, is not sponsored by any particular organization, but advertised on social networking sites.
“I’d like to see [the ordinance] continue because, unfortunately, with Facebook and other social networking places, the ability to get mass-advertised events is so great,” Olmstead said.
Farr said that a large part of the problem stems from the fact that no one takes responsibility for events posted on sites such as Facebook.
“I want to make it clear that it is not a ban on Floatopia but a way to try to control unsponsored events,” Farr said. “Somebody has to be responsible and take the actions like anyone else in the county would have to.”
Authorities argue that the ordinance is not an outright ban on alcohol, since organizations can apply to obtain a permit for drinking on the beach.
“This is a way of regulating but not stopping or ending drinking on the beach,” Carbajal said.
According to Olmstead, this is similar to the policy for drinking in Isla Vista’s parks and ensures that there are sufficient resources to address safety concerns and mitigate underage drinking at sponsored events.
However, James Wills, a third-year environmental studies major, said students deserve another chance.
“I’m biased because I live on the beach, so I don’t have to worry about it because I can just drink on my balcony, but it sucks for people who don’t,” Wills said. “I’m conflicted because it saves the county a lot of money, but at the same time I feel like we should get a second chance to prove we’re responsible.”