Normally, I try to avoid local issues. Most of the time, they’re boring, and even if they’re not, regional matters are usually of little importance. Sometimes, they’re both, like A.S. elections. But right now, there are a couple of issues that are worth our precious time. Isla Vista parking permits and the recent anti-alcohol sentiment are excellent case studies in how to legislate poorly.
Parking permits, for instance, are an obvious mistake. For starters, the charge of $195 per year seems a bit steep. Don’t start calling me cheap. I don’t have a car, and I’m going to try to do without one for as long as I can. The problem is that it’s unfair. In addition to paying for the cost of administering the permits, the fees drop some cash in the county’s general fund. It’s just like Robin Hood – stealing from the wealthy citizens of Isla Vista and giving to the rest of the impoverished county. If the money were guaranteed to buy parking structures in Isla Vista, then perhaps it would be reasonable. As it is, though, parking permits would serve one purpose: to inconvenience every vehicle owner in Isla Vista even more than the no-permit system. Isla Vista’s Project Area Committee/General Plan Advisory Committee (PAC/GPAC) plans to raise the standard of living in I.V. by lowering the standard of living in I.V. I’m not sure if these people are elected or not, but they’re arrogant enough to be.
Although most Isla Vistans opposed the plan, the PAC/GPAC voted almost unanimously for it. Government of the people, indeed. The county takes up the issue on May 4 at 9 a.m., downtown. Our representative’s number is 568-2191. If you can’t be bothered to give your input, you probably deserve the fees. It’s no skin off my back. I’d recommend going to PAC/GPAC meetings, too, but they don’t give a fuck what you have to say.
The other big issue in I.V. is alcohol. Statistically, alcohol and arrests go hand in hand. Most of these arrests are only because we have made alcohol illegal. MIPs and open container violations only waste the Foot Patrol’s time and piss off the rest of us. Some of these arrests, however, involve violence.
It is said that alcohol and violence go hand in hand. And yet, the only fight that I witnessed in my week of extensive research was caused by ketchup, not alcohol. If we really want to get down to it, we should look beyond the ketchup and alcohol and get to the root of the problem, the one thing all fights have in common: fists. If we outlaw fists, the fights will go away, or at least get a lot funnier.
Maybe I’m not being fair. Alcohol and violence are related. However, I’m convinced that the problem is one that needs to be addressed socially, not legislatively. None of the anti-alcohol laws have helped yet. Has violence decreased since we outlawed visible kegs? Has Halloween been tamer since the noise ordinances went into effect? Do you really think that the midnight I.V. alcohol cutoff does any good? I’m convinced that it only encourages people to drive to Albertson’s while intoxicated. Thankfully for us and that poor store owner without the liquor license, Isla Vista will soon have a true representative on the board of supervisors. Sure, Brooks Firestone is a Republican, but he’s also a vintner. I was concerned for a while that the “blame alcohol first” crowd was going to win a victory for sobriety, which really isn’t a victory for anyone. Unless Firestone opens a grape juice factory, I don’t think that’ll happen anytime soon.
I’m sure this is a fluke. Normally, the county supervisors do a great job at, um, whatever it is they do. The right wing has put out a lot of effort to focus on issues just like these and convince people that government can’t do anything right. That’s nonsense. But legislators do make mistakes sometimes, and we need to call them out when they do.
Loren Williams is a Daily Nexus columnist.