Local sloshball aficionados may find themselves striking out the next time they try to organize a game in Sea Lookout Park – more commonly known as Dog Shit Park – thanks to a new policy at the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District.
The IVRPD, which is responsible for distributing alcohol and event permits for local parks, received a letter from the Santa Barbara County Parks Dept. in March outlining the county’s rules for park use and permitting, IVRPD Board Secretary and Park Rentals Coordinator Enid Osborn said. She said the county’s regulations do not allow the district to issue permits for events with over 75 people, amplified sound, organized sporting matches or any combination of sports and alcohol.
County-owned parks in I.V. include Sea Lookout Park and Isla Vista Park, which is also known as Volleyball Park. Santa Barbara County Deputy Parks Director Jim Isaac said people will still be able to play unofficial sporting games in the parks, but sloshball will not be allowed and neither will volleyball tournaments in Volleyball Park.
Osborn said Sea Lookout Park is the only county-owned park that is typically used for organized events, and thus it is probably the only park where enforcing the policy will be an issue.
The district plans to follow the county’s regulations when handing out permits in the county-owned parks for now, Osborn said, but the IVRPD board members plan to discuss the issue at their next meeting.
“It would be an impact on the sloshball games, which are sort of an Isla Vista tradition,” Osborn said. “So the board has asked to have an item on the April 20 agenda to consider a response to the county. They will be asking perhaps for some kind of terms to be met that would take into account this long tradition.”
In December of 2004, the district adopted an alcohol ordinance requiring special permits for people looking to consume alcohol in the parks, and the county followed suit in March 2005, Osborn said.
“At that point, the district was allowed to issue alcohol permits for events at those parks,” Osborn said. “The county has a different set of guidelines for park use than the district’s guidelines and our permit, so we’ve just been going along and kind of doing it the way we do it.”
The county’s park use rules are not new, Osborn said, but they were only brought to the IVRPD’s attention when the district recently received the county’s letter.
“The district had superimposed its own rules and there’s nothing wrong with that, except that the county’s rules were always there,” Osborn said. “It’s just that when we started issuing permits, we did it with our own set of terms and conditions, which are somewhat different from what the county wants.” Isaac said he thinks the county has good reasons behind its regulations for both parks and he said local residents can still hold small, unofficial sporting matches at all of the parks.
“It’s just for large, organized events, and the reason [for enforcing the rules at Sea Lookout Park] is that it’s a small park in a residential neighborhood and there are no restroom facilities and it’s right next to the street,” Isaac said. “Those are pretty much the conditions that we would put on the use of any of our smaller neighborhood parks that we have throughout our park system, and also, we are concerned with the safety issues because, once you authorize and permit an event, there is a lot higher liability exposure.”
Despite the county’s concerns, Isaac said he is open to hearing from IVRPD board members about their feelings on the issue.
“They’re certainly welcome to send us some letters or e-mails,” Isaac said. “I think it’s open for discussion.” IVRPD Director Bryan Brown said he thinks the board just wants to find a compromise that works for the county and the district.
“[Sea Lookout Park] is owned by the county, not us, although we are managing it,” Brown said. “We’re trying to work out a solution with the county that makes them happy without altering the activities that occur in the park.”
The IVRPD Board of Directors will discuss the matter further at its upcoming meeting on April 20 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at 961 Embarcadero del Mar, next to Pita Pit.