Leave it to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to forever understand the fact that they don’t understand Isla Vista and the residents and Halloween. The latest “ban on Isla Vista Halloween committee” flap is just one more scribble on the already long list of gaffes and simple misunderstandings.

From what has been reported, it seems as if the ad-hoc committee doing research into the annual party seems intent on further taxing an already taxed Isla Vista, so that outsiders will be deterred from attending. Not a bad idea, but kind of shaky in terms of rationality. The way it seems to be at the moment is this: “We know that outsiders are the problem, so let’s make the actual residents pay for the outsiders’ stupidity.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I dislike the visitors who only come here to mess up the place just as much as 4th District Supervisor Joni Gray. They suck; end of story. This, however, is not an excuse to give residents the shaft, as Joni Gray is out to do. I have a hard time believing that Brooks Firestone is the point man on the anti-Isla Vista Halloween committee, especially since he has visited the community and has had first-hand experience with the locals.

Joni, well, that’s a whole other story. County Supervisor for the 4th District isn’t an easy job, and if you don’t believe me, just look at crime statistics for Santa Barbara County and where the hot spots are. Sections of Santa Maria are on par with Ventura County’s Oxnard. You have lots of gang violence, crystal meth labs and assaults, along with many other crimes and problems.

The end product is a lot of violent felony prisoners in the county pokey. In fact, the majority of Santa Barbara County Jail’s hard criminal population happens to be from the 4th District. Coincidence? Very, very doubtful. After all, there’s no such thing as coincidence. It would be little surprise to find that some of the 80 percent of those arrested during Halloween in Isla Vista are actually residents of the 4th District.

Maybe Supervisor Gray is trying to divert attention from the daily ills in her neck of the woods by focusing on a once-a-year event in our little town. If you look at the crime stats for a year in Isla Vista versus a year in Santa Maria, you will see that the severity of crimes in I.V. is orders of magnitude lower than what Santa Maria has to offer.

Sure, we have stupid people. Heck, you hear about the majority of them in the Police Blotter every week for stupid infractions. But we can at least say that SWAT doesn’t have to show up in I.V. every other day to bust a meth lab or do numerous felony warrant sweeps. You can live here knowing that it isn’t unsafe to go out any night because you might get jumped based on what hood you’re from. The difference between the majority of crime in Santa Maria and crime in Isla Vista is that, in Santa Maria, it is mostly felony crimes – the ones you get seriously locked up for. In Isla Vista, it mostly comes down to misdemeanor stuff, with a fine and some community service.

Sure, we’ve had our share of bad things, but they usually involve some idiots from out of town or a socially inept creep like David Attias. But, when all is said and done, I’m glad this isn’t Santa Maria.

This Halloween was a good one, and even the top cop in our area, Deputy Sheriff Eric Rainey had good things to say about it as well as Supervisor Brooks Firestone. The only critic is Joni Gray. Here’s some advice: Break up the anti-I.V. Halloween committee and start a new committee on how to keep Santa Barbara County’s truly criminal element in check. I guarantee you that most of the focus will turn to the 4th District. By the way, crime in the 4th District isn’t restricted to once a year like Halloween in Isla Vista; it is a year-round phenomenon and it is committed by its own residents. Yeah, we’re still the ones with the problem, so go figure.
Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.