After four drafts and a year of postponement, the Social Host Ordinance will again appear before the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

The ordinance will undergo its final round of debate tomorrow in downtown Santa Barbara, before the board will consider its adoption next week at a meeting in Santa Maria. If passed, it would target underage drinking by fining the hosts of loud or disruptive gatherings – defined as gatherings where there is fighting, excessive noise or obstruction of streets by people, vehicles or litter.

The ordinance – which would join several other laws already on the books to curb rowdy partying in Isla Vista – has roused considerable debate in the community and among board members.

Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr, who represents Isla Vista on the board, said that the ordinance merits thorough questioning to avoid vague wording and misinterpretation.

“I think that it bears a close reading, but I’ve had a number of questions and concerns about it from the beginning throughout all of the various iterations of the ordinance,” she said.

The primary question that Farr posed was whether the ordinance will actually provide new tools to curtail underage drinking and whether it is appropriate for Isla Vista.

“Isla Vista is a unique community,” she said. “If [the ordinance] is to curb underage drinking, is this the best way and do we have the ability to support it?”

Liz Buda, a UCSB student and Isla Vista Recreation and Park District representative, said she believes the nuisance ordinance – which is already in place in I.V. to address “unsafe behavior” at parties and the presence of kegs – would be a more effective regulation for the county.

“I do think [that the Social Host Ordinance is] too vague,” she said. “The nuisance ordinance is a better fit because it does define what the police have to see.”

According to the language of the proposed ordinance, first-time violators will be fined $250, with subsequent violations costing up to $1,000. Additionally, Farr expressed concern with the issues of legal liability since the ordinance is unclear as to whether property managers and tenants who are not present at the gathering may be fined as well.

“I think that there are some legal issues involved as far as holding people accountable for the actions of others,” she said. “I’ll be interested to hear the county attorneys and the other attorneys debate this during the hearing. Normally, you need to be directly cited for involvement. What about the property owner and any lessees not on the property? I think that’s a legal question that needs to be threshed out.”

According to 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, the ordinance was originally designed as a civil approach to family households where parents allow their children to drink and has been modified “extensively” to fit Isla Vista.

“This is not aimed at Isla Vista,” Carbajal said. “The fact that there is underage drinking in I.V. is a concern, but it’s not aimed at I.V. This is an effort to be synchronized with other areas to try and put forth another public health strategy to minimize underage drinking, especially in their homes and through parents as hosts.”

The original intent notwithstanding, the ordinance has become increasingly important to the student population, who Buda noted had little input in the drafting of the document.

“My major concern is that it’s not from Isla Vista and students have not been involved in the crafting of the ordinance and the fact that the ordinance doesn’t really fit with Isla Vista,” Buda said. “What we see in Isla Vista are that laws are not the solution to the drinking problems that occur. I’d like to do a lot more proactive and progressive ways to deal with the problem.”

Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf said she believes the overall goal of the ordinance is “good” in its desire to eliminate underage drinking and its effects on the community. However, she said she has heard concerns from community members about the scope of the ordinance.

“I’ve seen [concerns] from both sides,” Wolf said. “I’ve seen community members concerned with underage drinking and think this is a good model for reduction. I’ve also heard from other folks, not just the Isla Vista community I might add, that they have concerns that it may be over-reaching … that we don’t need it because we already have laws in place.”

The ordinance also includes the possibility of county-funded programs to curb alcohol abuse instead of or in addition to monetary penalties. Additionally, the ordinance requires someone to track violations, penalties and the programs, leading both Farr and Wolf to express concern about the monetary repercussions of passing the ordinance.

“What does that cost the county in a time in which we have to watch our budget very closely and have to cut other programs?” Farr asked.

The public hearing will be held on May 5 at 1 p.m. on the fourth floor of the County Administration Building downtown.