With the transformation of Del Playa Drive into a mile-long “no parking” zone for Halloween weekend, Isla Vista residents and out-of-town visitors may find themselves scrambling to find a place to keep their cars.
California Highway Patrol officer David Nees said the on-street parking restrictions on DP will take effect this Friday at noon. Shortly after noon, Sheriff’s Dept. and Isla Vista Foot Patrol officers will begin patrolling DP to check for cars violating the ordinance. Any cars left on DP – except for those parked in driveways – after the ban goes into effect will be towed, Nees said. Cars parked overnight at the Camino Real and Plaza shopping centers, located on Hollister Avenue in Goleta, will also be towed.
Nees said four Goleta-based tow truck companies will be responsible for removing any cars that need to be towed from I.V. He said students whose cars are towed should call the IVFP or Sheriffs Dept. with their license plate number and car description to find out where their vehicles are being held.
Thomas Towing manager Matt, who declined to give his last name, said his business will have additional tow truck drivers on call for the weekend. Matt said the company will have nine trucks operating this weekend to handle the extra business, instead of the usual weekend staff of three to four trucks.
“This is the busiest time of year for us,” he said. “Every year for the last 16 years, Halloween is a great time for business for tow truck companies in Goleta.”
Matt said towing rates vary from company to company, but he said the CHP regulates prices to ensure that no one company’s prices are much higher than the rest. He said Thomas Towing charges a $140 minimum for the tow, $40 per day for storage, and a $70 fee for picking up cars after 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Robert Nieves, co-owner of Nieves Towing, said he also expects additional business over the weekend. He said retrieving a vehicle towed by his company over the weekend will cost an average of about $210.
“I’m anticipating a lot of calls from the Sheriff’s Dept.,” Nieves said. “I just got off the phone with a lady from the IVFP, and she told me to be ready.”
Nees said the IVFP decided to prohibit on-street parking on DP over the weekend in an effort to protect student property and make the streets more accessible for emergency response vehicles. He said that last year, there were too many people on DP, and some people even walked on top of cars to bypass the traffic.
Melissa Curiel, a second-year English major who lives on the 6600 block of DP, said she is glad the IVFP is making an effort to protect students’ cars on the weekend, and she said she will most likely park her car on campus.
“Last year, I parked my car on El Greco to keep it safe, and I still had both of my license plates torn off – then I got a ticket for not having my license plates on my car,” Curiel said. “[The parking ban] is annoying, but I guess it’s better for us in the long run.”
Third-year environmental studies major Daniel Huerta lives on the 6500 block of Del Playa. Huerta said he does not park his car on the street, but he said he is still concerned about damage to his vehicle over the weekend.
“I hate to have to deal with the hassle of getting a permit – it would be nice to not have to,” Huerta said. “But if the foot patrol concerns itself with protecting people’s property as much as it does with giving out citations, then hopefully my car will be fine – and my house.”
By prohibiting street parking on DP, Nees said emergency response vehicles will also be able to respond to calls more quickly.
“With that many people and that many cars on the street last year, it kind of acted like a funnel,” Nees said. “We had a hard time getting through to respond to emergencies.”
Nees cited an incident that occurred one Halloween where a student fell from the bluffs on DP and emergency vehicles were unable to quickly reach him because of pedestrian traffic.
“Hopefully now people will have somewhere to get out of the way when we’re responding to a call,” Nees said.
With DP parking no longer available, revelers planning to park at nearby Camino Real Marketplace will find similar restrictions in effect there, as well. Marketplace manager Mark Ingalls said cars parked overnight in his shopping center will also be towed at the expense of the vehicle’s owner. He said the policy is not new, but the Marketplace is simply increasing its enforcement of the policy in comparison to past years.
Ingalls said the UC Police Dept. contacted the shopping center to alert him to the new students-only restrictions being placed on on-campus parking. He said this motivated the Marketplace, as well as the Plaza and the Sares-Regis center – also located on Hollister Ave. – to enforce the existing overnight parking policy.
“[The university] making us aware they’d be doing that is making us a little more conscious of enforcing the policy, especially because we’re so close to the university,” Ingalls said. “If they’re not going to allow people to park this year, we can expect more people trying to park overnight in our lots.”
Overnight parking creates problems, Ingalls said, including property damage to the shopping center. He said the shopping center has been the victim of property damage over previous Halloween weekends, as well as an increase in litter and discarded bottles, and evidence of urination and vomiting.
“We have concerns about these people on our property when all of our stores are closed,” Ingalls said. “Our concerns are the same concerns anyone would have.”