Halloween Committee Means War

The County Supes’ New Plan Ruffles Student Feathers

Alright, Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisorsyou
asked for it.
Just when I finally got around to putting
away the fishnets, fedora, and photos from my second to last
Halloween in I.V., you’ve created a committee with the express
intent of prohibiting, or limiting my ability to enjoy, my next —
and last! — All Hallow’s Eve celebration. Of course, this
means war.

anti-halloween.jpg

Just as my forefathers and mothers famously declared that there
should be no taxation without representation, I hereby say, with
all due respect to the supervisors themselves, give me
libation or give me death
. Or at least give me the liberty
to celebrate a long-standing I.V. tradition, or stop asking for my
votes and my tax money. Really, I mean it. I totally understand
that you object to the way the I.V. Halloween celebration costs the
county money and draws huge, and sometimes, unruly crowds to our
happy little seaside hamlet. I even understand if you have
complaints about the way the Halloween celebration monopolizes the
attention of the county’s emergency response services before and
during the actual festivities. But hey, Fiesta has plenty of
similar problems, gang activity in North County happens just as
much before and after Halloween, and the past, present, and future
uproar over widening 101 is probably responsible for its own fair
share of slowing down S.B.’s first responders.

As an I.V. resident, I’m a big fan of the live and let
live philosophy
. After three years of renting tiny
apartments in our tightly cramped town, I’d like to think I’m also
fairly skilled at the art of being a good neighbor. So, I’ll put up
with the onslaught of out-of-towners slowing down my State Street
shopping sprees during Fiesta, the gang-related graffiti in parts
of Goleta and I.V., and always being at least half an hour late
every single time I try to head south on the 101 because of backups
in and around Montecito. That’s because I know that in the scheme
of things, these problems aren’t so bad. Fiesta is an event that
inspires cultural pride for S.B. residents, county-wide law
enforcement is making the best effort they can to take care of gang
problems, and Montecito is still a gorgeous place to visit.

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Sure, I.V. has its fair share of problems. Trust me, I know
that, from crumbling, crappily constructed, cliff-hanging
condos
to the serious problem of stolen laptops
and pilfered music players
. But I don’t see the Board of
Supervisors forming an anti-bad-construction committee or
an anti-stolen-stuff committee
. It’s probably because
these problems — much like the issues of an overcrowded downtown
district during Fiesta, gang problems, and traffic on the 101 — are
not things that can be easily remedied by a little committee with
some big complaints.

Or maybe it’s because, with much of its population composed of
students whose time here only lasts four years, I.V.’s
voters don’t rank very high
on the supervisors’ list of
priorities. I know they try, and some of them may even have the
best of intentions, but if my experience as county editor at
The Daily
Nexus
taught me anything, it’s that threatening to take
action against the I.V. lifestyle garners more votes from the rest
of the county’s population than offering to use the county’s
resources to do something positive for the I.V. populace.

Either way, this so-called “anti-Halloween
committee” is not the way to fix the underlying problems within the
I.V. Halloween tradition. And yes, I’ll admit there’re some
problems. The onslaught of out-of-towners almost always results in
an increase in theft, assault, and vandalism during the Halloween
festivities. And, although the county has an obligation to provide
medical care to the slutty schoolgirl who doesn’t know her
libation limits or the puking pirate who took one too many from the
keg
, I agree that irresponsible partying is a drain on the
spirit of the celebration as well as the county’s resources. But,
again, a committee seeking to stop the party altogether is not a
viable solution. If you ask me, a committee against Halloween is
the entirely wrong way to go about this. But by springing the
formation of this committee on us Isla Vistans without giving us
the benefit of a formal announcement beforehand that would have
allowed us to show up and share our feelings at the meeting where
this was decided, the supervisors specifically chose not to
ask me our my fellow Isla Vistans
.

As anyone who follows Santa Barbara politics knows, this town is
crawling with committees. From the Project Area
Committee
(PAC) to the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD),
I.V. is largely governed by committees who investigate and discuss
issues and then make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.
The board then votes on these recommendations, and creates rules to
regulate the way I.V. operates. As an unincorporated part of the
3rd District, I.V. is ruled by the Board of Supervisors and,
largely, the Board of Supervisors alone.

No offense to the men and women who selflessly dedicate their
time and effort to local government — and in fact, all the more
power to them — but this specific committee seems like an attempt
to once again scapegoat the students living in
I.V. as being a problem for the larger county without looking to
actually fix the infrastructure problems that plague I.V. and serve
as the root cause for many of the problems that Halloween merely
exacerbates. And while we’re on the topic of the committee, I know
that the supervisors are now saying that they never termed this an
“anti-Halloween committee,” and that terminology was the brainchild
of the reporters at The Daily Nexus. But honestly, what
else were they supposed to call a committee designed to work
towards the eradication of the Halloween
festivities
in I.V.? And yes, there is a difference
between making the celebration safer and ending it entirely and,
from what I’ve read about this committee, it is more concerned with
finding a way to shut down the celebration than it is with making
it more secure.

Despite the heroic efforts on the part of many of the county’s
first responders during Halloween, students still need to feel
secure in knowing that calling on these lifesavers will not result
in disastrous legal consequences for themselves and their friends.
Despite the roadblocks and checkpoints throughout the town, there
is still far too much emphasis on punishing people who make bad
decisions when it comes to drinking or drug use, rather than
preventing those decisions by providing alternative events or
alternative transportation for people who drink and then feel the
need to drive. And, despite the county’s insistence to the
contrary, there is still a feeling from many of the officials
deployed in I.V. for the weekend that they are there to take care
of a bunch of silly little children, rather than
ensure a safe and enjoyable weekend for UCSB students looking to
participate in a tradition with as much merit as the Sun God
Festival at UCSD, the Jazz Reggae Festival at UCLA, or the big
Cal-Stanford game up north. Just because our tradition involves
dressing up and drinking hard, it doesn’t make it any less valid.
And yes, some people take it too far. And yes, the county has every
right to try and make the celebration safer, and punish those who
flagrantly violate state and county law. But, again, a committee
targeting the entire celebration is not the way to accomplish those
goals. Rather than establishing a committee focusing on the
negative — ways to stop the event, shut down the parties, and keep
students ‘under control’ — why doesn’t the board launch an effort
to make positive changes? Like making things safer by creating more
alternative programming, providing more public transportation to
students looking to get around safely during the celebrations, and
educating county officials — as IVFP Lt. Sol
Linver
has often done and done well — to focus on keeping
the students safe rather than on the dubious, and doomed,
task of keeping the students sober
.

So, Board of Supervisors, to sum up my point, allow me to
paraphrase one of the great manifestos of our country, a venerated
speech by one of America’s greatest leaders and a man who truly
knew the meaning of fighting for justice, BIll
Pullman
, in the film Independence Day: Isla Vista
and the supervisors can’t be consumed by our petty differences
anymore. We will be united in our common interests to make
Halloween safer and more enjoyable for everyone involved….As Isla
Vistans, we will be fighting to save our Halloween
— not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution — but from
annihilation
.

pullman.jpg

If necessary, I guarantee you we will go to war against this
committee and use every weapon at our disposal — our votes, our
voices, and our incredible T-shirt making, tent
city-creating, poster-designing powers
— to save the I.V.
tradition of celebrating Halloween.

But wouldn’t it just be easier to chalk this whole
anti-Halloween committee idea up to the supervisors’ post-Halloween
hangover, have a laugh at it, and then disband it in favor of
something more productive? I promise that if you do, I’ll invite
you all to my Halloween party next year.

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