The Associated Students External Vice President of Local Affairs recently established a fence along Walter Capps Park on Del Playa Drive, finally completing the community and campus-based efforts to provide new safety measures which were first launched in October.
A.S. EVPLA Rhandy Siordia spearheaded the project in response to multiple cliff accidents and deaths, including the death of a UCSB student earlier this year and other possibly cliff-related accidents. During Deltopia weekend, one Cal Poly student passed away with injuries consistent with a cliff fall, although the exact cause of death is still under investigation. While Siordia and other concerned community members came up with the idea to build the fence in March, solid funding and construction efforts were initiated in February.
The EVPLA Office began the process for the fence’s construction by hosting campaigning events to raise community funds, and other A.S. organizations — including Isla Vista Community Relations Committee and Isla Vista Tenants Union — provided support through donations. Eventually, with approval from the County’s Third District Office, the Santa Barbara County Parks Division provided a large portion of the funding for the project.
According to Rodney Gould, General Manager of IVRPD, Santa Barbara County originally promised no commitment to funding the fence but as the effort grew, county officials recognized the need for the structure and saw how much community support it had garnered.
“At first they agreed to match community funds if we could raise $3,000, but ultimately agreed to pay for all of it, unless the small portion had been donated by the community,” Gould said in an email. “Total costs were about $6,322.75 — of which the County will be paying $5,722.75. The County will also bear the undetermined cost of safety signage to match other County parks.”
IVRPD secured competitive bids, and once funding was secured, handled business with contractors and oversaw the physical construction of the fence. Prior to building the fence, Gould said the cliff side where the fence now stands was only protected by large areas of unkempt grass, which could potentially deter people from dwelling near the cliff edge.
“Prior to the fence, our only deterrent was a natural change in terrain,” Gould said in an email. “We would mow the majority of the park but allow the grasses … in the last 15 feet closest to the cliff to grow tall. This would at least force someone who was approaching the cliff to slow down and watch their step.”
In addition to the students and other campus community members involved, the Office of County Supervisor Doreen Farr, Santa Barbara County Assistant Director Paddy Langlands and Santa Barbara County Projects Manager Jill Van Wie were all instrumental in making the project possible, according to Gould.
A version of this article appeared on page 1 of April 16th, 2013’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo courtesy of the County of Santa Barbara.