Friday, August 1, 2008

IV’s luck of the Irish


In the spirit of a four-month St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Irish youth seeking a summer escape have flocked to Isla Vista for the summer, causing considerable problems for local law enforcement and community members.
The “Irish phenomenon” of Isla Vista has been an occurrence years in the making, as the unincorporated town has played host on consecutive occasions to titanic numbers of Irish partygoers. This year marks one of the largest influxes of Irish and European revelers to Isla Vista in recent memory, authorities said, as local law enforcement have been forced to dedicate already-limited police resources to subdue parties thrown by Irish visitors.

Sgt. Erik Raney of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol said this summer in particular has proven to be exceptionally busy as a result of the huge Irish influx into the town.
“This year just so happens to be one of the bigger years in terms of numbers of Irish,” Raney said. “Their numbers are easily in the hundreds.”
Sgt. Raney said although the Irish partiers he has encountered have been well-tempered, increased police activity has been implemented in Isla Vista as a result of their presence.
“Individually, the Irish have been very respectful and understanding when we approach them for a crime. They have all been incredibly nice individuals,” Sgt. Raney said. “As a group, they party until beyond the wee hours of the night, they drink excessively and they either do not have an understanding or care about our laws here. They will claim ignorance and then try to hide their beer.”
Sgt. Raney said Irish vacationers are most commonly cited for possession of alcohol as a minor, public intoxication or having open containers of alcohol in public.
Although the Isla Vista Foot Patrol puts the Irish’s numbers in the hundreds, estimates by Irish tourists range from 1,500 to more than 2,000 living in the Isla Vista area during this summer.
Sgt. Raney said the lack of vested interest in the community on the part of the Irish vacationers has contributed to their outstanding levels of delinquency.
“I like to call it the ‘Las Vegas mentality,’” he said. “For example, in Vegas you only care about yourself and that has a negative impact on the town and community.”
According to Sgt. Raney, the former managers of both the Breakpointe and the Chimney Sweeps apartment complexes in Isla Vista have left this summer as a direct result of the Irish and their unwillingness to refrain from immoderate partying. Coupled with the Coronado apartment complex, the housing trio accounts for the highest concentration of Irish summer renters in Isla Vista.
“We are getting complaints every night about the Irish living in the Breakpointe and Coronado Apartments,” Sgt. Raney said.
Both the Breakpointe and Coronado apartments are managed by Conquest Student Housing, a housing company based in Los Angeles. The company has been the target of public disapproval in the past, most notably following the 2006 eviction of low-income families from the then-called Cedarwood Apartments (now the Coronado Apartments), which sparked numerous lawsuits and community protests about the company’s presence in Isla Vista.
Sgt. Raney said between June 2 and July 13, the sheriff's department, along with the Goleta City Police, have responded to the Breakpointe Apartments 49 times and the Coronado Apartments 23 times.
“These numbers are way above average,” he said. “We get music complaints and other disturbing-the-peace complaints on a daily basis. Unfortunately, because 500 people live at Breakpointe, it draws resources from the UCPD and the Goleta Police to help deal with these situations of complex parties. It’s more than we can handle.”
Conquest Student Housing Property Manager Darin Siegel said he was unable to give a statement with regard to the excessive partying by Irish tenants who sublease on his property.
“We decline to comment about anything related to our tenants,” Siegel said. “We have to protect out tenants.”
In addition to Siegel’s refusal to discuss the police presence over the past two months at both the Breakpointe and Coronado apartments, upper management at the Conquest Housing office in Los Angeles also declined interviews for this story.
The company asked all subletting tenants to return their keys before 5:00 p.m. yesterday. The notice also stated that renters who did not return their keys “would be charged rent every day that the keys were not returned.”
Irish youth have been traveling to the Santa Barbara area for many consecutive years during their school summer vacations on student work visas, obtaining accommodations via subletting opportunities by Isla Vista management companies. Several Irish travelers said they came to Isla Vista simply to reap the benefits of the youthful town and to revel in its summer party mania.
“I came to IV this summer to meet Americans my age,” said Kristi, a native of Ireland living in Isla Vista for the summer. “Instead, all I have met are Irish. They are everywhere. I’m staying in the Breakpointe apartments and they are everywhere.”
Kristi, who refused to provide her last name for privacy reasons, said she reveres Isla Vista as a paradise, despite reactions by law enforcement toward Irish visiting for the summer.
“Friday and Saturday nights have been quieter during the past summers, and we attribute the rise this year to two reasons — one of which being the Irish.” Sgt. Raney said. “Two, we assume that more UCSB students are taking summer school classes to get back off the five- and six-year plans.”
Raney said although the Irish are treated just as other violators of the law in Isla Vista, repercussions for their crimes are often not effective as the vacationers are on limited time.
“Right now, we’ve spent a month trying to deal with the Irish, but they are on three-month visas,” Raney said. “We arrest them, issue warnings and enact the same no-tolerance polices as we do with all other violators in the area. But, then they leave and these measures are still not having an impact. This is why we are not trying to address the management companies. They have the responsibility to respect the year-long tenants.”
“Many of us are staying here until October, some even as early as September,” said Aisling, an Irish student living and working in Isla Vista for the summer. “The partying is just a constant thing.”
“Here, I can’t even go out to the bars because I’m only 20 years old,” Aisling said. “It’s weird because I’ve been going to bars since I was 17 back in Ireland, so many of us don’t have any other place to go and party. So, we just say f--k it, let’s get smashed at home.”
When asked why many of the Irish have chosen Conquest Housing as their temporary residence, Aisling said the limited amount of accommodations available for the summer in Isla Vista had affected her decision.
“It was the only accommodation available for me,” Aisling said.
Maxx Echt, a third-year UCSB student, said the large number of Irish in Isla Vista have not directly interfered with his daily routine, although he feels their presence on a regular basis.
“I have had many encounters with Irish kids this summer, but most of them have been civil and interesting,” Echt said. “Two Irish kids rolled up to my house and we got into a 45-minute conversation about politics. They told me it was the best conversation they’ve had since they got here.”
“This summer, there is a little more activity in containing the Irish,” said Sgt. Alex Tipolt of the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department. “Regarding the city, every year it sees if the influx of Irish has grown. There are definitely more Irish here than there have been in the past, and that’s what we’ve been encountering.”


Anonymous said...

According to a friend that lives in one of those complexes, the Irish consulate has also become involved, sending notices to the Irish that they may face disciplinary action back in their home country.

Anonymous said...

It is true that the consulate was notified but there is no chance of any Irish student facing disciplinary action in Ireland as a consequence of any misdemeanors committed in America. The Irish consulate has no authority over any Irish student regarding crimes committed in America. The management at breakpointe contacted the consulate in an effort to intimidate the students to quieten down. Also having spoken to Americans living in the conquest complexes the parties were just as wild during the year.

Anonymous said...

look up IV tv on youtube to see exactly how the american kids who live in and socialise in IV spend their nights. their obvious serious drug abuse problems with cocaine and many other class A drugs make the Irish kids seem tame. my friends and i were shocked to be at a party where drugs were openly being used IN FRONT of ignorant police who were outside power tripping over kids with open containers.