Members of the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District’s Board of Directors met last night to decide whether to fight for local residents’ rights to party by taking a proposal to amend Santa Barbara County’s noise ordinance before the county board of supervisors.
The proposal, which was presented by Santa Barbara City College Associated Students Vice President of External Affairs Keith Russell, would amend chapter 40-2 of the Santa Barbara County Ordinance Code, which mandates that amplified music must cease at midnight Friday and Saturday nights. The amendment would push back the restricted noise hours from midnight to 2 a.m., implement lower fines for noise citations and create a permit program that would allow people to apply for a permit to play live music into restricted hours with their neighbors’ consent.
The IVRPD board discussed whether to present the proposed amendment to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, but it did not vote on the issue.
Russell said he thinks the amendment would have a positive effect on the local live music scene, as well as public safety on the 6500 and 6600 blocks of Del Playa Drive and Sabado Tarde Road. He said he believes that the noise ordinance does not help to lower the amount of crimes committed in I.V., and that there is a discrepancy between the number of people who file noise complaints and the number of local residents who are given citations for violating the ordinance.
“Throughout the course of the last 10 years, this ordinance has had little or no effect on the number of violent crimes that take place in I.V.” Russell said. “The issue is that there are far more citations issued than complaints received.”
IVRPD Director Logan Green said he supports the amendment, but he said he does not know how it would affect public safety in I.V. He said he thinks the amendment would allow the I.V. Foot Patrol to deal with more serious crimes, rather than citing people for playing music late at night.
“I support the amendment as long as nobody is being hurt by it,” Green said. “You can still call the IVFP if there is an issue – it should be addressed to them.”
IVRPD Director Bryan Brown said he is not sure whether the county supervisors would even consider changing the noise ordinance. He said he thinks recent events in I.V., such as the May 8 incident in which several people overturned a car on Del Playa Drive, could make the supervisors hesitant to loosen restrictions in the area.
“I think it’ll be a hard sell,” Brown said “When the photo of the moron in front of the overturned car is in the media, it becomes hard to sell the amendment. I’ve been on both sides, and until we try to address the image of I.V. I don’t know if you can sell this.”
IVRPD Director Eric Cummings said he thinks live musical performances are a good alternative to the typical I.V. party. He said he thinks the amendment could pass if local residents can convince the supervisors that events with live music keep people from committing violent crimes and help promote lower levels of alcohol consumption.
“There is a huge difference between live and not live music,” Cummings said. “Live music creates a positive vibe and is also a non-drinking activity.”
Associated Students Legislative Council member Rachel Weight said she thinks amending the noise ordinance would help make I.V.’s streets less crowded, because many people currently leave parties at around midnight when the music is shut off. She said pushing back the restricted noise hour would encourage people to leave parties more gradually, which could help reduce the number of crimes committed by people who have nothing better to do.
“Parties get shut down at midnight, but people are still awake and looking for ways to amuse themselves,” Weight said. “This is when people go burning couches and taking shots. Some of my favorite memories are of listening to Rebelution and dancing with my friends on a balcony on weekend nights.”