There are serious safety concerns in Isla Vista, even before the return of UC Santa Barbara students. That is expected to bring out a sweeping increase in law enforcement over the next few weeks.
This weekend, will be “move in” weekend. The Isla Vista population will grow by an estimated 20,000 people. Already many residents are Santa Barbara City College students. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s department says those young people make up about 4000 residents in the community next to UCSB.
On weekend nights, it’s much different. Many out of towners are in the area. Many streets are fully of pedestrians in the roadway or expanding out from house parties. At times, cars can not get through, and in some cases, people in the streets were jumping on passing vehicles or refusing to get out of the way.
One Santa Barbara County Fire engine, responding to an emergency call last Saturday night, could not get down Sabado Tarde Road until a firefighter walked in front of the engine, to clear people off to the side who would not open a path despite seeing the large engine with blinking lights on.
With that, Sheriff’s Spokesperson Kelly Hoover said, “it is definitely not business as usual out here in Isla Vista right now.”
Meetings between the Sheriff’s department, UC Santa Barbara, University police, county leaders, student organizations and residents are taking place to find a collaborative answer.
On the streets, however there has been push back from many who are stopped by a law officer. “What they are seeing when they are making arrests is a high level of disrespect and that is something we don’t want to see out here,” said Hoover.
One resident, Jacob LeBell said he avoids the “hot zones” and says there are many people who live in Isla Vista that have nothing to do with the explosive parties or civil disobedience. “For the most part, if you are being smart and watching out for yourself you will be OK,” he said.
A UC Santa Barbara senior, Laura Beresford said she has a plan with her friends to keep their nights safe. “We’re all good with leaving with people and not walking alone, and being proactive,” she said. “So be safe, be smart and enjoy it.”
But there have been too many danger zones during the last school year and no one wants a repeat.
“We had a young woman fall off the cliff and die. We had two sexual assaults involving multiple suspects. We had civil disobedience where deputies and civilians and a UCPD officer were injured. We had a mass murder situation here in Isla Vista,” said Hoover.
The “game plan” has not been released, but it is expected to be a very large number of patrol teams, on foot and in squad cars, and a continued stream of police officers from other nearby college campuses.
The additional costs to taxpayers has not been released.