Prospective tenants hoping to get a step ahead in the Isla Vista renter’s rush can now take an online training course offered by local organization Alcohol Community Tools to become preferred lease applicants.

One of the main components of the Safer Isla Vista Project, Alcohol Community Tools is a state-funded effort that aims to educate students and I.V. residents about the dangers of binge drinking and to decrease the amount alcohol abuse in the community. Project members define binge drinking as having five or more drinks in one sitting.

Santa Barbara County Alcohol and Drug Program project member Lilia Bello said that students can take an online training course through the Resident Host Training Program to become more informed about local laws and possible lease violations involving alcohol and noise restrictions.

Bello said students who complete the course will have an edge over other applicants in the I.V. housing rush.

“Once the training is completed, you receive a certificate that gives you an advantage when trying to rent an apartment,” she said. “It shows that the resident is interested in being a responsible tenant, so it gives you an advantage over other applicants.”

Alcohol Community Tools has brought together community organizations, such as the I.V. Food Co-op, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics and the I.V. Teen Center to comprise the Safer Isla Vista Project. Although the three-year state grant to fund the A.C.T. project ended on Sept. 30, organizations are still implementing the program through other financial sources.

A.C.T. Program Director at the Teen Center Leonor Reyes said a large part of the system was aimed at forming a better relationship between the I.V. Foot Patrol and I.V. residents.

“The A.C.T. group worked with different areas of the community – the permanent residents, the Foot Patrol, the student population, the I.V. Council, landlords, the university, even the hospital,” Reyes said. “It wasn’t punitive or ‘don’t drink’ – it tried to encourage students to have knowledge of the laws. All the good steps were put into place.”

The Foot Patrol recently hosted a barbecue so that officers could get to know the community and build a more familial relationship with students and residents.

Efforts to unite the I.V. community and inform students about the dangers of binge drinking are still under way. A Día de los Muertos event is planned for Nov. 2, and will take place in front of the I.V. Teen Center. With the assistance of Lambda Theta Phi and Sigma Kappa Chi, the teen center plans to set up a cemetery in which the gravestones list alcohol and drug abuse as the causes of death.

Teen Center Coordinator Brian Ponce said that the cemetery will illustrate how serious the dangers of binge drinking are and encourage students to make healthy, informed decisions.

“It will be in remembrance for those who have passed away due to alcohol and or drugs,” Ponce said.

Students wishing to obtain a certificate of preferred lease in I.V. may complete the registration for the training course at