Local landlords may soon be hearing more about their naughty tenants, as the Isla Vista Foot Patrol prepares to step up its efforts to notify property owners when residents commit crimes.
IVFP Lt. Sol Linver said the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. is in the process of hiring a new employee whose sole responsibility will be to notify landlords of law violations committed by their tenants. He said the IVFP currently has access to up to $20,000 in grant money from the county’s Dept. of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services, part of a $237,444 State Incentive Grant the department received in October 2004. A UCSB student is currently undergoing a background check to determine her eligibility for the two-year position.
Linver said the plan to hire a new employee is part of an attempt by the IVFP to improve the landlord notification program, which was designed by the Dept. of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services to help reduce the large number of crimes committed in certain parts of I.V. He said the IVFP applied for the grant money after landlords requested that the system be improved.
Currently, notifications are sent to landlords through the mail at the beginning of every month, which Linver said is slow and inefficient. Under the old system, he said, the IVFP has received mixed results.
“I would say [the landlord notification system] has and has not been effective,” Linver said. “I think that from the landlords’ perspective, yes it has. Once it is used more regularly, I think it will become more effective, but right now it’s hard to say. It’s been sporadic and we’ve only been doing it as staffing allows.”
The new employee should help to modernize and upgrade the current system, Linver said, and he hopes the department can begin sending out weekly notices via e-mail.
While there is no particular list of crimes for which the IVFP may inform a landlord, Linver said tenants hosting large, unruly parties or taking part in situations that could result in significant property damage are at risk of having their landlord notified.
Landlord Valerie Sweatt of SFM Vista Del Mar said she is looking forward to the upgraded notification system.
The IVFP, Sweatt said, has only contacted her with information about her tenants three times before – once to inform her of a tenant’s parole violation, once for gunfire on a Del Playa Drive property and another time for attempted rape. She said that while most law violations remain between the police and tenants, she thinks notifying landlords of major crimes is very helpful.
“I’m not interested in knowing about every parking ticket you get,” Sweatt said. “We’re only contacted for very important things and we hope to work together with our tenants to fix these problems.” I.V. residents, however, said they have mixed opinions about the IVFP’s plans.
Ty Uranga-Foster, a sophomore dramatic art major, said she feels the upgraded program might be costing the IVFP more than it should.
“I’m not sure it’s vital to have this information going out every week instead of every month,” Uranga-Foster said. “I don’t see a huge difference between those two, and $20,000 seems like an awful lot of money when we’re in a budget crisis.”
Alex Berger, a sophomore psychology major, said he is supportive of the IVFP’s heightened efforts to notify landlords.
“It sounds like a good plan to me,” Berger said. “It’s important for landlords to know what’s going on, especially if it’s something serious.”
Kip Lorenzetti, a sophomore business economics major, said he thinks the IVFP should not be allowed to inform landlords of problems with tenants under any circumstances.
“It’s not really [the landlords’] business,” Lorenzetti said. “The police are overstepping their bounds. It seems like it’s beyond the spectrum of the duties of a police officer – they’re there to enforce the law, not tattletale.”
Linver, however, said he feels improving the landlord notification program will allow IVFP officers to do a better job overall.
“The whole theme of this program is a safer Isla Vista,” Linver said.