Isla Vista is a great place for students to unwind and have fun after a strenuous week of academics. As midterms approach, I’m sure that most of you are looking forward to the Halloween weekend. As your County Supervisor, I hope Halloween is an enjoyable holiday. It is also my obligation to try and keep Isla Vista a safe environment. I would like to highlight a few areas that are often overlooked while everyone eagerly awaits the weekend.
Public Safety: There has never been a Halloween in Isla Vista where everyone came out safe and sound. Our local sheriff and fire departments, hospitals and community volunteers begin planning and recruiting for this weekend months in advance, and still it is a challenge to handle the situation. If it were only an intensification of alcohol poisoning and minor injuries, the conditions could be dealt with immediately. The fact is that there are many other issues that are exponentially increased when the masses head for I.V.
Unfortunately, there are people in our society who see crowds as an opportunity to cause trouble. It may be intoxicated people looking for a fight, burglars who operate amid the mass havoc or gang members who want to make their presence known. Many ill-intentioned people come to Isla Vista this time of year and cause much harm.
The crowds are literally so enormous that it is almost impossible to get anywhere. You may lose your friends, have little efficacy in moving in the direction you choose and you also risk being trampled upon. Even more alarming is the fact that emergency response teams literally cannot respond efficiently to serious problems.
Cost to Public Services: Thousands of taxpayer dollars are spent on the public services that are necessary to mediate the weekend’s damage. Cleanup each morning is an enormous task on many of the streets that are inundated with trash, glass and about everything else you can imagine. It is almost commonplace for cars to be completely ruined in Isla Vista while everyone comes through. The county has worked with UCSB to provide safe parking for your cars and to monitor the parking lots, but all of this comes at a cost.
Reputation: UCSB is on the fast track to becoming one of the nation’s most respected universities, especially in light of the recent Nobel Prize winners. This attention is wonderful and will serve you well when you graduate and apply for a job with an education from such a respected institution behind you. However, the diploma still comes with the party school image that is almost entirely associated with the Halloween weekend.
There really is a simple solution to the problems that accompany Halloween, which is to limit the out-of-town guests. These people account for over 75 percent of the crime and drastically augment the physical damage to the streets and infrastructure. The problem is not the citizens of Isla Vista. The truth is that there are huge parties there every weekend and numerous people crowd Del Playa Drive regularly. The source of these concerns is the massive amounts of people brought in from other towns and colleges.
Halloween should be a memorable and safe experience. You worked hard to get into UCSB; thousands of students submitted applications and were turned down. This is your university, your town and this is your place to celebrate holidays like Halloween. Let’s keep it that way. It is a simple fact that when so many people crash the party in Isla Vista, bad things happen.
Brooks Firestone is the third district supervisor.