New fencing regulations require special attention from owner in case of death – The Channels

The cliffs of Isla Vista, California were the scene of 14 identified deaths over the last 30 years. In an attempt to prevent these deaths, the county approved a minimum requirement of 6 feet fence along oceanfront Del Playa Drive.

The last death Jacob Parker in April, she raised awareness about the current fence on the Isla Vista property, which still stands at its original height of 3.5 feet.

“I was there when he went down,” said Jack Javier, a close friend of Parker’s. “If the second post behind the initial fence had been a foot higher, he might have survived.”

According to County Supervisor Laura Capps, the county cannot make changes to existing properties retroactively; Only new properties located along cliffs and those with building permits are subject to the required higher fences.

However, according to Capps, the county subsidizes the process of building additional fences by paying for permits needed by property owners.

“Sometimes you can’t let human behavior correct itself. You have to design (fences) to make it safer,” said Jonathan Abboud, Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) CEO and President of City College Trustee.

In addition to obtaining permission to change fence height, Capps said property owners could pay several thousand dollars depending on the size of the oceanfront balcony.

“Sometimes permit processing times can be an obstacle, but that’s not really the responsibility of the property owner,” Abboud said. “If they just return the permit, it will eventually get approved.”

Capps says the California Coastal Commission, the agency that controls the state’s coastline, is not impeding the county’s new regulations.

Joaquín Pérez, a close friend of Parker’s and an Isla Vista resident, urged property owners to prioritize installing taller fencing in residential areas of Isla Vista, where people congregate and are most tempted to climb over the fence.

Rugged Coastal Del Playa Drive on Friday, May 10 in Isla Vista, California. Residents and visitors to this unincorporated town can view balconies and houses along the cliff from the beaches below. (Angel Corzo)

“You can’t really use the restroom at these parties,” Pérez said. “And of course it’s not a good idea, but a lot of people piss. They jump over the fence and pee.

According to Capps, installing a light sensor for people near cliff edges could possibly prevent them from taking further action before deciding to jump the fence. Additionally, Capps says the county is also working on funding permanent bathrooms along Del Playa.

Mateusz Strzepek, local resident and former San Luis Obispo candidate for city council, advocated against a taller fence to preserve Isla Vista’s scenic bluffs.

“People don’t really jump over fences to urinate or play tricks. This is simply misleading information,” Strzepek said. “People don’t have much incentive to climb these fences, and it seems like we’re creating a barrier that separates us from nature.”

According to Abboud, IVCSD is working to establish relationships with Isla Vista property managers by inviting them to meetings hosted by UCSB and IV Safe.

“For the most part, property management companies maintain pretty good contact with (IVCSD),” Abboud said. “Wolfe, Sierra and Meridian, even Playa Life; all these (companies) we have contact with.”

But according to Abboud, the hardest thing to contact is independent Isla Vista property owners who are not affiliated with larger companies.

Nevertheless, Abboud hopes that Isla Vista property owners will implement these changes for the public good as he and IVCSD continue to spread awareness about bluff safety by conducting door-to-door interviews, distributing information pamphlets and updating their social media and website.

According to Abboud, IVCSD is also working with local promoters and bands to host more formal night events in Isla Vista, hoping to reduce attendance at chaotic and dangerous house parties.

“These bluffs are beautiful; it’s fun to be involved, especially in this beautiful setting at UCSB,” Capps said. – But they are quite dangerous.

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