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Fence height requirement to increase along Isla Vista Bluffs

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to increase the fence height requirement along the Isla Vista Bluffs to 6-feet.

Supervisor Laura Capps proposed the fence height increase in her eight-point Isla Vista Bluff Safety Plan shortly after Santa Barbara City College student Benjamin "Benny" Schurmer fell to his death near Walter Capps Park over Labor Day weekend.

The board also approved waiving permitting fees for fencing and railings on private property along the Isla Vista Bluff. As part of Capps' plan, the county's parks division will also look into enhanced lighting, warning signs, and explore the use of shrubs and bushes as a natural barrier along the bluffs.

"With 13 fatalities from cliff falls and too many injuries to count, today we took swift action to make Isla Vista safer," said Supervisors Capps. "These commonsense measures were entirely informed by those who have been impacted by preventable tragedies, especially the moms who have lost their children."

Several friends and mothers of victims spoke in support of Capp's proposed safety plan during public comment.

"I am very grateful for all of you for making this a priority," said Beth Krom, mother of Noah Krom who died in 2009.

The revised amendment will increase the minimum height requirement from 4-feet to 6-feet in County Parks and from 3.5-feet to 6-feet for railings and fencing along the bluffs on private property.

During the meeting, county staff said this amendment would not have to go before the California Coastal Commission because it is an amendment to the building code. County staff said they hope the waived fees will encourage property owners to install higher fencing, but added that a property owner requesting building permits for their property would need to increase any fence or railing to the new height requirement to be up to code.

Supervisor Capps said the provisions of the plan will take effect in three weeks and then work on replacing county fences will begin.

Capp's plan also included collaborating with community groups on bluff safety, exploring permanent solutions for public restrooms, and a memorial for the 13 people who have fallen to their deaths in the past thirty years.

Work on the memorial is already underway and is being led by the UC Santa Barbara Associated Students group and the The Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD). 

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
isla vista
Isla Vista Bluffs
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Santa Barbara County board of supervisors

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