City councilmembers filed into the Santa Barbara City College board room on Monday evening for a historic meeting, marking the end of a three-month effort to hash out neighborhood concerns about disruptive students living near the oceanfront campus. Considerable elbow grease from city staff, college deans, and area residents went into crafting solutions to deal with loud noises, partying, and behavior that at times borders on the criminal.
One remedy many agreed could prove effective is a noise ordinance similar to one recently put in place at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. If passed, the ordinance would allow police officers to issue citations to people playing music loud enough to be heard 50 feet beyond their property line, or at any audible level after 10 p.m. After a warning, the fine would be steep — $300, $750, or $1,000, depending on the offense, and doubled during designated holidays — and would hold the landlord accountable on the second offense. According to police spokesperson Sgt. Riley Harwood, who has been an active task force member, the Cal Poly ordinance reduced neighborhood complaints by a third. But it was noted that an ordinance here would probably have to be amended for Santa Barbara as the entire city might not be in favor of stricter laws. City staff are expected to make progress on a proposal by this fall.
Another idea gaining momentum is to start scheduling more City College classes on Fridays and Saturdays to cut back on Thursday-night parties. A third recommendation is to set up a policing office on campus similar to the one on the Eastside.
Though unrelated, the task force was formed amid SBCC’s campaign for Measure S, the $288 million facilities bond measure that failed last November. Opponents argued that too many SBCC students hail from out of the area. On Monday, President Lori Gaskin reiterated that, per state law, community colleges are open to all California residents on a first-come, first-served basis; certain groups such as veterans or foster youth have priority enrollment. Calling a 4,000-student increase in the last 10 years the crux of the issue, neighbor Beebe Longstreet called the task force efforts “just the beginning.” At 4:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday at SBCC and Wake Campus, respectively, the college will hold public facilities workshops to discuss the possibility of moving around programs — an idea that may see backlash from neighbors.