Outdoor couches will soon be as scarce as keg parties have become in recent years, as the county cracks down on Isla Vista residents who have “indoor furniture” in their front yard.
In an effort to reduce the number of couch burnings, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance this summer making it illegal for any indoor furniture to be put on front lawns.
Leslie Wells, a program manager for the Public Works Dept., said that in the next few weeks MarBorg Industries, a garbage collection company, will alert residents with illegal furniture in their yard and give them a week to get rid of it.
If a resident does not remove the furniture from the property, Wells said, MarBorg Industries will contact the property owner. There are no additional penalties.
The Isla Vista Foot Patrol will not be enforcing this ordinance, station commander Lt. Sol Linver said.
Removing couches from front yards will hopefully rid students of the temptation to set them ablaze, said Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone. He said a lack of easily burnable furniture will result in fewer couch fires.
“This couch burning has become a really peculiar situation. I say peculiar because it just doesn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason; it just happens,” Firestone said. “Last year 31 couches were burnt, there were 19 arrests – 9 of them were UCSB students – and one person came as far as from Bakersfield to burn a damn couch.”
Firestone said couch burnings put a financial burden on the county, as emergency response services must be called out whenever a blaze occurs. Besides the monetary considerations, Firestone said couch burnings tie up responders and can potentially prevent them from responding to other emergencies.
“There are so many things wrong with [burning couches]; it pollutes, it screws up the streets, it sometimes spreads,” Firestone said. “If you don’t watch it, those things burn pretty quickly.”
The ordinance, Firestone hopes, will also save students from themselves.
“What I hate more than anything else is the trouble [couch burning] causes the people who do it,” Firestone said. “I mean, it’s a minimum $1,000 fine and a misdemeanor, plus it can be a felony too.”
Firestone said he hopes MarBorg Industries will act with discretion, and that furniture will not be removed unless it is at risk of being burned.