An awkward middle-aged chaperone is evoked by the term “sober party monitor,” but for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, it’s the host of a party in Isla Vista who can intercept noise complaints. The “Party Registration Program,” and the nominally sober monitor, is the Foot Patrol’s latest move toward more amicable relations with the hamlet’s young residents. Isla Vistans are both hopeful and skeptical.
“It’s very 21st century of them,” deadpanned Kate Maninger, now in her fourth year of living in Isla Vista.
Here’s how the program works: First, the party hosts choose an individual to be the “sober party monitor.” This person then registers the party date and time, a contact phone number, and other information online at the Isla Vista Foot Patrol website. (https://www.sbsheriff.org/command-and-divisions/law-enforcement-operations/south-county-operations-division/isla-vista-foot-patrol/). If the Sheriff’s Office is contacted with a noise complaint, the sober party monitor will receive a message warning that the party has 20 minutes to end. If successful, the party hosts avoid costly fines or citations.
Though the officers say the idea behind the program is to foster community and help decrease police intervention in Isla Vista, some residents have concerns. Harrison MacDonald, who has lived there for over three years, said, “While it’s a good idea on paper, I’ve seen I.V. cops bend the rules often enough to worry about its execution.” He recalled witnessing a kid get detained for having an open container even though he was on his own property. But, according to the Sheriff’s Office, similar programs have been successful in the City of San Luis Obispo and elsewhere.