UC Santa Barbara senior Rhandy Siordia has one wish before he graduates this spring, and that is to keep the students who will follow him safe.
Siordia, Associated Students external vice president of local affairs, is the lead student voice in an effort to construct fencing along 390 feet that borders the Del Playa Drive cliffs at Walter Capps Park.
He and other students has been working since September with Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr, the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District and the Isla Vista Foot Patrol to block the bluff edge of the property at 6731 Del Playa Drive — the only remaining public park along Del Playa without a fence.
College students and Isla Vista revelers have been known to tumble from the cliffs, especially at night, causing injury or even death.
Last November, 21-year-old UCSB student David Propp died from a cliff fall. Officers discovered his body on the beach the next morning below the 6500 block of Del Playa.
“People fall off the cliffs from time to time, and much of the time it’s fatal,” Siordia said this week. “Why isn’t there protection along all parts of the cliff?”
Siordia said his research hasn’t turned up any specific falling incidents at the park, but he’s hopeful a fence could be erected as a sort of memorial for all those who have fallen, not to mention save someone in the future.
The project, which has an estimated cost of $6,500, would extend small, 36-inch-high wooden fencing along the entire park, similar to barriers on other public and private areas, he said. Completion is tentatively scheduled for June.
“I think a lot of people know that the cliffs are dangerous,” Siordia said. “It’s a very big deal. Sometimes people are just so drunk that they end up on the other side somehow.”
Farr, whose district includes Isla Vista, told Noozhawk this week that she is optimistic the project could be finished in the next several months.
Funding is expected to be a collaborative effort.
“The design, planning and permitting for the fence have already been completed, and we are making positive progress partnering together to find the necessary funding,” Farr said. “All the other parks have had their fencing completed, so this is a very high priority project for me to see completed as quickly as possible. We are doing all we can to prevent any more falls from the top of the bluff. But, despite these precautions, residents and visitors to IV should always be extra careful when anywhere near the bluff edge, whether playing in the parks or partying in the residences.”
She noted that the rest of Del Playa is private property, which is under the care of its owners.
Siordia said the groups are trying to gather project funding, hopefully limiting the pinch on students’ pockets.
“This is a basic safety right,” he said. “I’d really like to see students see these recurrences, fatalities, injuries, and embrace a sense of responsibility.”