Couch fires have plagued or invigorated Isla Vista – whichever way you would like to view it – for as long as students have been packed into this rat hole we call home. Crammed two or three to a room with inadequate plumbing, no parking, outrageously expensive rent and a security deposit that we’ll never see again all make Isla Vista the wealthiest ghetto in the world. We have put thousands of gray hairs on every governmental body as well as the North County who have tried to lasso us down with ordinance after ordinance which are supposed to help us in the end, aren’t they? They have tried to convince us not to vote, UCSB is now sending parental notifications home when we get arrested, the police give out MIP’s like party favors and are now trying to make us move our couches inside. I say enough is enough. When are we going to say, “No, we don’t want this,” and stand up for our rights?
The County Board of Supervisors is drafting an ordinance as we speak which would force us to move our couches inside or pay a hefty fine. It is modeled after an ordinance that was adopted at the University of Colorado at Boulder, attempting to reduce the amount of couch fires. While couch fires in I.V. have been prevalent in past years, there is a huge fallacy as to the number in recent times. There were only 46 fires between the months of September 2001 and August 2002, with 11 of those occurring within the month of June. Are these numbers truly alarming enough to ban couches from being outside? A more proper way to address the problem might be to target certain times of the year when fires most often occur. For instance, stiffening the punishment for couch fires in the month of June or forbidding couches from being outside during that month would cut down on the couch fires without penalizing the majority of the student body. Another attempt may be to provide more means for disposing of unwanted couches during the last few weeks of the school year. Or better yet, by creating a designated fire pit somewhere along Del Playa where on the last day of school we could build a huge couch-bon fire, that would start to eliminate random couch fires while keeping intact the vigilance of Isla Vista.
So I ask of you to please think critically about the outlawing of outside couches as an attempt to limit couch fires and tell me, will this ordinance be a means to an end? Will this limit the amount of couch fires in our streets? Do we burn the couches that we sit on? I don’t believe so, and your A.S. government is fighting to protect your rights; but now we need your help. Freshman to seniors, left-wing to right-wing, DP to El Colegio, we need everyone. We are asking everyone to write a letter, a paragraph, even just a sentence stating your opinion and send it to . If that is too much to ask than there will be petitions circulating through I.V. with a universal paragraph asking the supervisors to please consider other options to limiting couch fires. Every letter and petition will be put together in a packet and sent to each supervisor. Included in that packet will be a critical analysis of couch fires, letters from the students, signed petitions, statistics on couch fires and suggestions for the course of action. Let’s all do our part and protect each others’ rights by letting our voices be heard. Let’s all write letters and sign petitions and keep our right to store our couches outside.
Jason Benesch is a senior law and society major.