Temporary fencing is going up at all coastal parks along Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista in an effort to prevent more drunken revelers from tumbling off the cliffs.
Santa Barbara County officials announced Thursday that fencing — plastic, orange construction barriers that add about two feet to existing wooden barrier fencing — would be installed along the bluffs as an added safety measure to protect the welfare of those living in and visiting the college community adjacent to UC Santa Barbara campus.
The California Coastal Commission granted the county an emergency permit to erect the temporary fencing, and must also approve an eventual, to-be-determined permanent solution, according to Santa Barbara County Assistant CEO Renée Bahl.
“What we’re finding is that (current fences are) not deterring some people from going over to the dangerous bluffs side,” she said.
Installation began this week, although some county and Isla Vista Recreation and Park District parks were still without the added barriers Thursday.
Residents checked out the five-foot fencing at Pelican Park, since more was set to pop up at Sea Lookout Park, Window to the Sea, Walter Capps Park, bluff top Open Spaces and five Isla Vista beach access locations — with beach access remaining open.
Bahl said the project was developed through a partnership with UCSB, Isla Vista residents and safety advocates concerned about frequent cliff falls, some that have resulted in death.
The most recent fall happened last week, when a college-age man was transported to a local hospital after falling from a cliff in the 6700 block of Del Playa Drive on May 30.
Bahl said UCSB was backing the cost of installing the fence, although actual amounts were not available.
A new Student Safety Enhancement Fund will foot the bill for temporary fencing, along with other immediate and emerging efforts to improve safety in Isla Vista.
“The temporary fencing along the Isla Vista bluffs is one of many actions we are taking — including increased patrols by police officers and community service officers, additional lighting and many more — in consultation with Santa Barbara County officials, residents of Isla Vista, and all stakeholders,” UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang said in a statement. “We appreciate the county’s collaboration on this project, and we look forward to continuing to work together to protect the safety and well-being of our students and all members of our community.”
The search for a more aesthetically pleasing permanent barrier would continue, Bahl said, with no timeframe yet established for when that might be presented for approval.