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Goleta Council Discusses Parking Plan, Law Enforcement for Isla Vista Halloween

City officials say they're concerned that the threat of citations won't be enough to deter out-of-towners from parking in residential areas

With Halloween just days away, Goleta city officials on Tuesday discussed a plan they hope will control parking issues, but only after a somewhat prickly exchange between City Council members and law enforcement.

The City of Goleta is enacting street parking restrictions in neighborhoods around Isla Vista that have been used in years past as parking for the thousands of out-of-town revelers attending Halloween festivities in the largely student-populated community. For a map of the impacted area, scroll down.

This year, the city is implementing a resident-only permit parking program in the restricted area.  The permits, which will be mailed to the residents, will allow them to park on the street.

Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department Lt. Butch Arnoldi, who is Goleta's police chief, said that a total of 18 personnel will be in the area over the weekend. 

"Citations will be issued and arrests will be made," he told the City Council on Tuesday.

Some friction arose, however, when council members pressed Arnoldi about the towing of vehicles that would be taking place on Halloween weekend.

Because the purpose of the parking restrictions is to avoid disruptions to the neighborhood, Arnoldi said that revelers returning to the neighborhoods to find their cars missing "would raise heck," most likely causing a scene early in the morning. 

On top of that, towing would cause more paperwork for a staff already stretched thin, he said.

"If the car is blocking a driveway or a fire hydrant, then those people will be towed, but our primary purpose will be citations," Arnoldi said.

Citing the parked cars would be the first line of defense, he said, but the citations issued will only amount to $37.50 apiece, which Councilman Roger Aceves countered was cheaper than a cab ride from downtown Santa Barbara to Goleta.

Halloween parking
Planned parking restrictions for Halloween weekend in Isla Vista. (City of Goleta map)

"Thirty-seven dollars to these kids is not going to be anything," Councilman Jim Farr said, adding that he hopes the fee can be raised in the future.

Perhaps most critical was Mayor Michael Bennett.

"I'm sorry it inconveniences people," he told Arnoldi. "We want the inconvenience. We want tows."

Vyto Adomaitis, director of  the neighborhood services and public safety department for the city, assured the council that staff heard their concerns and would act accordingly.

Another area of concern arose when several council members asked about the patrol shifts deputies will be working. The shifts are from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., and if any activity is continuing to take place at the end of the shift, Arnoldi said deputies will be required to stay longer to deal with that.

"We will stay as long as we need to stay," he said. "In the past we've towed anywhere from five to 12 vehicles each night, so that will probably be the same, if not more. ... Every sworn deputy will be working that weekend."

Signs will go up next week letting people know about the restricted streets, and tow trucks will be stationed all around the city as a warning.

Permits for residents will be mailed out starting this week, according to Adomaitis.

"They'll probably start going out on Friday and throughout the weekend," he said.

Permits will be delivered to residents in the area before Oct. 27, and if residents do not receive their permit before then, they should contact the city's Neighborhood Services Department at 805.961.7556.

The permits must be requested by noon on Oct. 31 and should be kept in the vehicles parked on the street until 6 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 2.

If a vehicle is spotted without a permit on the street, residents can call 9-1-1 and the dispatcher will take the information and route it to a deputy for action.

Road access won't be restricted and the parking lots at Girsh Park and Camino Real Marketplace will be open to the public during daytime hours.

If this year's effort is successful, the city may consider expanding the restricted parking area next Halloween.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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