After attending the town hall meeting Tuesday evening at the University Religious Center and discussing the issue of violence in Isla Vista – and its connection to excessive alcohol consumption – with community leaders, UC and Santa Barbara City College administrators, residents and students, I was dismayed to read the staff editorial regarding the I.V. Deli Mart.
The editorial states that the permit allowing the Deli Mart to sell beer and spirits should be granted. The first sentence in the editorial lists the six off-site establishments in Isla Vista where beer and spirits can be purchased and asks the question, “Is one more really going to push I.V. over the edge?”
I believe the question should be “Is one more really needed?” Isla Vista’s alcohol-related crime rate is already “over the edge” and, not only are more alcohol establishments unnecessary, but it would be sending exactly the wrong message to consumers in Isla Vista.
There are currently 16 restaurants in Isla Vista that serve beer and wine – with one serving hard liquor – in addition to the six off-site outlets. Isla Vistans have managed to purchase their spirits with these numbers quite successfully without the need for yet another business, whose goal it is to slash the price of alcohol in the spirit of competition.
The editorial goes on to say that instead of targeting alcohol consumption, we should target the real culprits: the out-of-towners who come to I.V. to party. I suggest that the easy availability of alcohol at the large, open parties in I.V. is what draws the out-of-towners to I.V. They, in turn, are responsible for many physical assaults and property crimes stemming from their attendance at the parties; but by no means are they solely responsible.
Everyone needs to evaluate the level of crime and alcohol abuse and determine if this is the quality-of-life standard that is acceptable to the community of Isla Vista. There is no question in my mind that there is plenty of room for improvement.
There are studies that have shown that as the percentage of alcohol establishments to general retail establishments increase in a town, so do problems, crime and a general deterioration of living standards as well.
Finally, the editorial suggests the other real culprit is the lack of communication between those who govern I.V. and those who reside in it. The Isla Vista Foot Patrol is a storefront office on Pardall Road with open doors. I am always willing to talk to anyone regarding their concerns. We communicate regularly with local residents, business owners and yes, students. Last night’s town hall meeting on violence, sponsored by the Associated Students’ Commission on Public Safety, was one such example of our efforts to meet with students and concerned citizens regarding a critical topic.
While I have nothing against the owners of the I.V. Deli Mart, I did not walk away from last night’s meeting with the feeling that more alcohol outlets in I.V. would contribute to a safer environment. This is not prohibition or heavy-handed police influence. I have a sincere interest in improving safety in Isla Vista and reducing the number of reports each week that describe physical assaults involving alcohol abuse. To that end, I welcome your input and suggestions on how we can best accomplish this goal.
Tom McKinny is a lieutenant for the Isla Vista Foot Patrol.