The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a contract between the Sheriff’s Department and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to establish two state parolee daytime-reporting centers in Santa Barbara County.
Sheriff Bill Brown said that although the program won’t cost the county anything for the first few years — with a $135,000 grant from the state — there is hope within the law enforcement community that it will expand from state parolees to people recently released from the county jail as well.
“The reality is that this is going to make the community a lot safer,” he said, explaining to the board that day-reporting centers would provide more supervision over recently released convicts than typically provided by a parole officer. Brown also said recidivism could be reduced by keeping closer tabs on parolees, improving their lives as members of the community.
Floatopia a No-Go
Floatopia, an unregulated beach party that attracted more than 10,000 young revelers to Isla Vista’s thin strip of sand last year, appeared destined to occur again this year. An event was created on Facebook — the social networking Web site that facilitated such a huge turnout last spring — and several students had met with county public safety and university officials to try to hash something out.
Told by Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr and other officials that they would need to apply for a permit for this year’s event — which would have to include security, safety personnel and proper sanitation facilities among other things — students organizers were unable to get together the required resources quickly enough.
Not to be deterred, one of the organizers — UCSB student and Isla Vista resident Chris Par — took the lead and filled out the county’s permit application, which Farr said was inadequate because it made no provisions for security or sanitation.
“Floatopia could happen as a sponsored event if people go through the process,” she said. “We worked to make it a safe and sponsored event, but that didn’t happen.”
Brown said that after last year’s event, his office recorded 78 citations, 13 full arrests and 33 patients treated by medical personnel and public safety officers — many of whom sustained traumatic injuries and two of which involved falling from IV’s blufftop — in addition to a lot of trash and numerous safety hazards.
“Based upon what happened in 2009, we have grave concerns about what will happen in 2010,” he said.
This year, sheriff’s deputies began closing beach access stairwells last weekend to keep the party from getting onto the beach if the 10,000 or so people the department expects, based on Facebook responses, actually show up. This weekend, law enforcement is expected to close off access again, as they are better prepared to handle large crowds on IV’s teeming streets.
Par attended Tuesday’s board hearing and called the county’s crackdown “an un-American violation of college students’ rights.” He said that while some of the comments made about Farr on Facebook were inappropriate, they were nonetheless a reflection of residents’ sentiments. Still shouting accusations at supervisors, Par was removed from the room by sheriff’s deputies after repeated requests from board chairwoman and Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf that he leave the podium.
After a recent victory at the Goleta City Council, MarBorg Industries — Santa Barbara’s only locally owned and operated trash-hauling company — took a shot, at the county level this time, at becoming the South Coast’s primary waste disposal service.
Faced with renewing eight-year contracts with three waste disposal corporations, the Board of Supervisors went with the recommendations of its staff, electing to maintain more or less of a status quo.
Plenty of public comment was offered in support of the Borgatello family, the owners of MarBorg, which by all accounts is well-engaged in the community through numerous donations to local organizations as well as its monumental efforts to get Santa Barbara County up to the state’s recycling standards.
Steve Woodward, who runs the Goleta Valley South Little League program, said MarBorg’s donations to the league have been a big help at keeping it running. Bob Yost, executive director of the Page Youth Center, said that although Allied Waste — the other of two companies serving the South Coast — provides adequate trash service at his home, MarBorg has gone above and beyond the call of duty not only in providing good service, but by being a generous supporter of the community.
Two members of the Santa Barbara Outrigger Canoe Club told the board that Allied has supported their organization since 2006.
Other public commenters on Tuesday spoke in support of Allied Waste — a subsidiary of trash industry behemoth Republic Services. Echoing county staff’s contention that maintaining competition between companies would ensure solid trash service, a few people suggested that having MarBorg as the sole collector would amount to a monopoly.
No Smoking, Please
Also on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to accept the first reading of an ordinance banning smoking at the county’s public parks. Environmentalists to teachers to coaches were on hand to offer support of the ban, which supervisors agreed would be in the best interest of promoting public health, safety and environmental health.
Two Surfrider Foundation volunteers shared stories of beach cleanups during which the most commonly found item has always been cigarette butts.
“If you pass this, you’re sending a very strong message to the entire community that you really do care about having a healthy environment,” said Scott Bull, a member of Surfrider’s Santa Barbara Chapter, adding that on Coastal Cleanup Day — a one-day service event held last September — volunteers picked up more than 230,000 cigarette butts across the state.
Many people spoke on the issue, but the board adopted the ordinance quickly, without much discussion, amid applause from members of the audience. The ban will be finalized at the board’s April 20 meeting.
— Noozhawk staff writer Ben Preston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.