These are the rules of Isla Vista. Learn them, love them, live them, or pay the fines and serve the time.
Every year at this time, those who enforce these rules make their presence felt as the start of Santa Barbara City College’s semester marks the start of Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. “fall education period.” There are more cops on the streets and more citations issued.
From now through Halloween, there will be an increase in officers patrolling I.V. and the zero tolerance policy will be in effect – thereby removing officer discretion in the writing of tickets. Instead of issuing warnings in certain circumstances, the zero tolerance policy requires officers to issue citations for any offence they witness.
Isla Vista Foot Patrol Lt. Russ Birchim said the fall education period is intended to instruct people new to the area about the rules and laws enforced in I.V.
“First of all,” he said, “I think that the incoming students – the ones that have been here of course know what’s going on – when you get the 18, 19-year-olds that are out of the house for the first time away from parental supervision, they tend to test the system and make their own island somewhere.”
The most misunderstood regulations, Birchim said, concern the consumption and possession of alcohol.
“They should be aware of the fact that they cannot have an open container in the public roadway – private property is fine – unless they are under the age of 21,” he said. ” If they’re visible from the street, deputies can see them from a place [deputies] have a right to be, and they appear to be under the age of 21, [deputies] can contact them and write them a citation.”
Possession of marijuana or a fake ID are also common offenses. Depending on quantity and circumstance, Birchim said both offences are serious enough to merit jail time. In all cases the contraband will be seized.
In addition to the ordinances emphasized in past fall education periods, this year the IVFP will focus more attention on the problem of urination in public. Recently, the fine for public urination has been lowered in an effort to encourage officers to be more liberal in their issuing of citations for such offences.
“[Urinating and defecating in public] is against the law and I realize after a few beers it’s easy to forget that, but we do have a new ordinance in place now for urinating and defecating in public, which mandates a smaller fine,” Birchim said, ” and we’re gonna make a lot of arrests for that.”
However, the most serious non-violent offenses to be wary of in I.V. are those involving couch fires.
“The DA’s office is prosecuting them quite stringently,” Birchim said. “It’s usually around – the fine alone – six, seven hundred dollars, and they have their option, they can lose their license or go to alcohol awareness classes. If they’re arrested in public they go to jail for public intoxication.”
On the campus front, UC Police Dept. Captain Bill Bean said students should be wary of personal property theft.
“The two main things that students, especially new students, face on campus is bicycle theft and backpack theft. To avoid falling victim to bike theft, I would strongly suggest having a good, strong lock and locking the lock to a bike rack itself,” he said. “So many students make the mistake of locking the tire of the bike to the frame, and we have caught many bike thieves stealing bikes that are locked in this fashion.”
Avoiding arrest in I.V., however, is not the only concern for new students. Safety, particularly for women, is a major issue. But specific precautions can reduce one’s vulnerability, Birchim said.
“Of the 23 reported rapes we had last year, in every situation the victim was intoxicated and in most cases so was the suspect. They are very hard to prosecute; the victim doesn’t exactly recall what happened. She knows that she had sexual intercourse against her wishes,” he said. “It’s important for a girl going to a party in Isla Vista to have friends around her that she is sure aren’t going to abandon her halfway though the night.”
“We had one terrible rape last year where a girl was intoxicated with friends at a party and they got tired of her because she was getting a bit obnoxious. They tried to walk her home, but she was a bit reluctant, so they left her at a bus stop. She was actually kidnapped, raped and then dumped back in I.V. somewhere. Friends have to remain friends even if they are intoxicated and it’s always a good idea to have a designated non-drinker with them.”
Isla Vista residents should also be conscientious about locking their windows and doors. A number of “hot prowls” are reported each year – where an intruder enters an apartment while the resident is home. Birchim said these offences are especially prevalent at night
“We have a multitude of calls throughout the year by girls and guys who wake and find someone in their apartment either stealing things or a potential sexual assault,” he said. “So lock your doors and windows.”
However, I.V. has a low incidence of intruder rapes, Birchim said. Sexual assaults in the community are most often committed by those who are known to the victim
“They are primarily, for the lack of better word, date rapes where the girls meet somebody at a party and end up spending the evening with them and getting intoxicated,” he said.
Bean said there are ways to protect oneself while walking the streets of I.V. or on campus at night.
“We definitely encourage students to take advantage of our escort service through Campus Service Organization if they have to be out late at night, especially if they are alone,” he said. “We also suggest that students employ the buddy system when going out at night and be constantly on the lookout for danger.”
The phone number for the CSO escort service is 893-2000.