In the hope of partygoer behavior and the prevalence of alcohol-fueled revelry in Isla Vista, state authorities toured Del Playa Drive Friday night with Chancellor Henry Yang and law enforcement officials.
While they did not enter any parties, the group did see action from the street – from crowded lawn parties and packed balconies, to foot chases of assault suspects and drunk in public detainees vomiting in curbside custody.
“This is a lot different,” said Jerry Jolly, Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) director, as he cruised the 6500 block of DP. “If this is a typical Friday night, this is definitely amazing.”
Jolly said the volume of people in the streets made I.V. stand out from other college towns he has visited, like those of San Diego and Chico State universities. Jolly visited I.V. this weekend at the invitation of the Isla Vista Alcohol and Other Drug Council, which is hoping the I.V. Foot Patrol will receive a $100,000 ABC grant to implement a keg registration and tracking program to combat underage drinking at keg parties.
Although worried about the large quantity of alcohol available on DP and unhealthy student attitudes toward binge drinking, Jolly said he was impressed by the community support for changing student attitudes about binge drinking, noting the presence of so many local officials.
“I don’t think anyone wants to change the party scene as far as the atmosphere,” Jolly said. “We just want to make it safer.”
Jim Broderick, director of the county Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services also went on the walking tour, as did Prevention Coordinator Nancy Vasquez.
Broderick said he saw a need for more alternative activities like the I.V. LIVE variety show the group attended at Embarcadero Hall prior to hitting DP. However, he also saw a need for a greater emphasis on educating college-aged students about the health effects of alcohol.
“Keg registration is one strategy in a number of strategies,” Broderick said. “I’m wondering if [students are] connecting what they’re putting into their bodies with being detrimental to their health.”
When Jolly’s group of about 20 party tourists turned west onto the 6500 block of DP from Embarcadero Rd., partygoers on an oceanside balcony heckled them. While one person yelled “old-timer” repeatedly, another unidentified man on the street jeered that “…someone would do something about the alcohol problem in Isla Vista.”
As they made their way along the 6600 block, Chancellor Yang joined the group with his wife Dilling and Vice Chancellor Young. The group chatted with students walking in the street. Yang and Young, who more often than not went unrecognized by the students with whom they spoke, asked students “a personal question” regarding how much alcohol he or she had consumed that night.
While Yang was speaking with a student, IVFP Deputy Sandra Brown and another officer cited a man for possession of an open container of alcohol, just steps away from the chancellor.
Brown is the IVFP officer in charge of coordinating use of the sheriff’s department’s current ABC grant, which supplied $50,000 to the foot patrol last December to monitor illegal alcohol sales to minors at area liquor stores.
On the 6700 block of DP, Lt. McKinny and several other officers moved to detain a driver who screeched his tires and lurched forward toward pedestrians, including the touring group of officials. While the driver was being cited, a large crashing sound preceded a foot chase between a man who had just been in a fight and several officers. Two officers jumped over a chain link fence and tackled the man in an empty lot – with Jolly and Yang looking on.
Despite the activity, Sheriff’s Dept. Commander Geoffrey Banks said it was a relatively quiet night. He said he thought the IVFP has a good shot at receiving the $100,000 ABC grant and estimated that the sheriff’s dept. was competing with over 50 other California jurisdictions for a total of 20 grants.
“We showed [Jolly] on a smaller scale what goes on,” Banks said. “We just want to stop the extreme behavior. Our goal is not to kill the party – we want people to enjoy their time out here and not be devastated by a horrific event.”
The grant application is due by mid-March, and ABC spokesman said.