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South Coast City Develops New Approach To Try To Tackle Issue Of Vagrancy, Crime In Parks

Santa Barbara's Eastside Park is one of about 60 recreational facilities in the city which will be subject to a ordinance closing them a half hour after sunset daily.

It’s all too common in public parks on the Central and South Coasts. Some of the facilities struggle to deal with issues like people loitering, drinking, and using drugs, especially after dark. The City of Santa Barbara is moving to crack down on the problem, with the City Council developing a policy of closing its parks a half hour after sunset.

The city already closes 21 of its 60 parks and recreation facilities to the public a half hour after sunset. But, nearly 40 others currently are open until 10.

The conceptually approved change would make the closure a half hour after sunset uniform for all of the facilities. Later use would be available with permits. But, some council members are concerned about the impacts.

Backers of the plan admit it’s far from ideal, but say something has to be done.

The council approved the concept of the closure changes on a 5-2 vote, but it will have to come back for final action.

Meanwhile, the council unanimously approved another park safety rule aimed at young children. Designated areas of certain parks with facilities for young kids will only be available to adults who are accompanied by children. Last year, a young child was pricked by a hypodermic needle someone discarded in the children’s play area of a park on Haley Street.

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