Editor’s Note: it was incorrectly stated that the ordinance passed 4-1. The ordinance passed 3-2, with Fernando Ramirez also voting to oppose. The Nexus regrets this error.
The Isla Vista Recreation and Park District approved an ordinance at its Thursday night board meeting that will establish a permit system for alcohol consumption in all I.V. parks.
Approximately 20 people attended the meeting at the University Religious Center. Under the ordinance, individuals will have to pay $10, and groups of between two and 10 people will pay $35 to legally drink alcohol in the parks. Board Secretary Enid Osborn said the price of the permits was determined by administrative costs.
“Anything less than that would mean that the park district is subsidizing people’s permits,” Osborn said.
Most students objected to the cost of the permits, while park and health workers favored the program because it targets chronic inebriates. Permits will expire after four hours and will be available for purchase at the IVRPD office from 2 to 4 p.m.
Under California state law, violation of the ordinance would usually be a misdemeanor, which includes a trip to court, a fine up to $1,000, and up to six months of jail time. However, the District Attorney’s office and IVRPD agreed to treat the offense as an infraction with a $100 penalty.
Several park services employees endorsed the ordinance for moral and health reasons. Dan Gaffney, a grounds worker, addressed the problem of homeless chronic inebriates who live in the parks.
“The problems that they create have just gone too far. It’s definitely a moral and health issue, and not just for the workers,” Gaffney said. “There’s hepatitis – kids could be running around through the park and step in some feces and drag it home. Kids don’t know about these things, and, unfortunately, there aren’t enough kids in the parks anyway because of all the alcohol.”
Al Rodriguez, assistant director of the Santa Barbara County Alcohol and Drug Program, described the services the organization and others are offering homeless chronic inebriates in partnership with the IVRPD.
“Homeless people in Isla Vista need extensive support. We’re making a commitment to those people of concern in this community,” Rodriguez said. “This is not a one-shot issue on our part, and it is part of several initiatives. We’re trying to ensure that homeless people are not ignored as they may have been in the past.”
Scott Talkov, senior political science major and member of the Associated Students Alcohol and Other Drug Task Force, said he opposes the permits on ethical as well as monetary grounds.
“This idea is elitist and misguided,” Talkov said. “I’m on the Alcohol and Other Drug Task Force and I talk to a lot of students. I have yet to find a student outraged by the amount of alcohol in the parks. Homelessness is not caused by free use of alcohol; it’s caused by social problems. This will just push the homeless into back alleys and less visible locations. At the rate of $35 you’re going to have a lot of people disregarding the law. I don’t have $35. It doesn’t fit into my student budget. I’m poor.”
Board member Diane Conn said the reason for her vote against the measure was the high price of the permits. Conn proposed a $2 fee for individuals and a $5 fee for groups, but was overruled by the other board members. The ordinance passed 4-1.
“We’re taking away something that people can do now. If the permit is so high that people can’t use it, then it’s an effective ban and the permit is just a pretext,” Conn said. “I think it’s our responsibility to our constituency to make this available.”