What promised to be a maddening discussion about changing Isla Vista’s weekend noise curfew from midnight to 10 p.m. did not disappoint on Tuesday night, when about 100 people filled Embarcadero Hall. For two hours, students approached the microphone to criticize three Isla Vista Foot Patrol officials about the proposed ordinance amendment, which surprised just about everyone when it was announced last week at the Isla Vista Community Network meeting.
The rule — which would prohibit residents from playing music or making noise within earshot of their property’s edge after 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays — would impact all unincorporated areas in the county. But so far, just Isla Vista residents have complained.
Lt. Ruben Cintron, who took over the Foot Patrol in June, was conspicuously silent onstage at the town hall meeting, deferring mostly to South County Commander Kelly Moore and community liaison deputy James McKarrell. Functioning as the scapegoat, Moore nodded and absorbed grievances from young people, who argued the rushed move lacked transparency and would do little to curb I.V.’s party culture.
“I would rather we use the resources we have toward something more pressing,” said one student. Others spoke about Isla Vista’s burgeoning music subculture, which thrives in the before-midnight hours. Noise is hardly a big deal, another speaker said, especially compared to sexual assault. And many said the change could drive people to drink more in a shorter period of time.
“This isn’t meant to increase or decrease binge drinking,” Moore responded. “That’s a whole other social issue.” He replied to each speaker and apologized multiple times that the matter “came to the public the way it did.” He thought community feedback already happened, he said.
Last year, former Foot Patrol Lieutenant Rob Plastino received data — compiled by the county CEO’s office — showing that a tremendous amount of crime was being committed on weekend nights from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. In fiscal year 2013-2014, he said, there were more than eight times the number of Priority 1 calls for service on Fridays and Saturdays — 325 and 284, respectively — than there were on Mondays and Tuesdays — 40 and 31. “It’s insane,” he said in an interview.
“I have no clue why we allow loud music to go on until midnight,” he said, noting cities such as Lompoc, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo prohibit loud music past 10 p.m. every day of the week. The same is true for neighborhoods around other UC campuses, he added. “We’re kind of the oddball.”
But students Tuesday stressed that District Attorney Joyce Dudley recently reported that crime overall dropped by 20 percent in the last two years, according to data released by the I.V. Safe committee. In an interview, Dudley said she would perhaps support the ordinance if the nexus between noise and crime could be demonstrated. “I just don’t know if I’ve heard of one,” she said, noting an exception could be, for instance, parties of 50 people jumping on a deck. She is bringing the issue to I.V. Safe next week.
A few years ago, the county implemented the Social Host Ordinance, which implicates anyone knowingly serving alcohol to five or more minors. The purpose was to deter parents from turning a blind eye to underage drinking, but the rule was dramatic for Isla Vista.
To be implemented, the proposed noise ordinance must be approved by the county supervisors. Exactly when the item would be placed on their agenda is still unclear. Commander Moore expressed some openness to delaying such action.
In any case, the issue functions as a political hot potato for candidates Bruce Porter and Joan Hartmann, who face off in November for the open 3rd District supervisor’s seat. After the meeting Tuesday, both shied away from definitely saying whether or not they supported the proposed noise curfew. Both, likewise, called the process deeply flawed.
The meeting was hosted by Spencer Brandt and Ethan Bertrand, who are two of eight candidates vying for a seat on the proposed Isla Vista Community Services District (CSD), which would be created should I.V. voters approve the district in November. The others in the CSD race are Jay Freeman, Natalie Jordan, Jon-Stephen Hedges, Michael Kile, Joel Ruiz, and Andrew Pragin. Confusing the matter is that there are three separate races for five positions: Two seats are four-year terms and one position is a two-year term. Two seats are temporary two-year terms (and will turn into staggered four-year positions). Efforts to defeat the CSD, meanwhile, have already begun.