By David Kornahrens
I would like to say I know how to throw parties and get crazy. After all, I am part of the party that brought booze back by repealing Prohibition in 1933. The Democratic Party has a long tradition of valuing the importance of an individual’s liberty to party. Let’s be frank — when we talk about “student representation” in Isla Vista, Floatopia and the Social Host Ordinance likely come to mind. The Santa Barbara County Supervisors addressed these two issues in spring 2009. The key to better student representation in the future lies in viewing the successes and failures of our immediate past concerning these issues.
In 2009, the student focus was on the Social Host Ordinance. The ordinance legally made it easier for police officers to enter residences in Isla Vista. This ordinance was modeled after laws aimed at high school students throwing parties while their parents weren’t home. A well-organized student lobbying effort arose which successfully tabled the Social Host Ordinance until 2010. The students’ efforts combined a legally inexperienced understanding of the ordinance with an experienced leveraging of relationships with county supervisors, built up during the 2008 election. While we succeeded in temporarily blocking the Social Host Ordinance, the students overestimated the ordinance’s relative legal impact. Prior to the Social Host Ordinance, the IVFP already possessed enough invasive power to be a threat to partiers. For all the outrage and lobbying against the Social Host Ordinance in 2009, I haven’t heard any complaints since the ordinance’s passage and implementation in 2010.
At the exact same time in 2009, the County Supervisors passed a ban on alcohol on Isla Vista’s beaches. This effectively banned any future Floatopia events from happening. But, Floatopia 2012 is not impossible. The County Supervisors have considered giving out an event permit to a Floatopia-like event if the proper precautions are taken. Unfortunately, student efforts so far have been exclusively represented by an egomaniacal individual’s ranting and raving. In the eyes of the politicians and police who maintain Isla Vista’s law and order, this egomaniac is the same as you, me and every other Isla Vista resident.
If Floatopia 2012 is ever going to happen, an Isla Vista civic organization must be created by the most responsible, mature and politically perceptive members of our student community. This civic organization would raise money — through ticket sales or membership dues or fundraising — in order to fund expanded police and fireman presence, pollution-preventative bathrooms and other event costs. Students cannot call themselves environmentalists or part of the green generation if they deny Floatopia kills much of the beach’s animals and plant-life. A sufficient number of portable bathroom and event entrances — under a ticketholder system — are examples of a Floatopia plan that would protect the environment and could gain the County Supervisors’ approval. This civic organization idea is a basic prerequisite if students ever hope to return to the beach to party.
Until students get serious, the politicians and police will continue treating us as the children they think we are. Students can and have shown the potential to effectively lobby the supervisors. If we don’t get distracted by red-herring legislation and we possess the resolve to organize, then we can bring the party back to Isla Vista’s beaches in 2012.