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After death of UCSB alum on Isla Vista bluff, community members voice concerns over safety

Posted at 10:44 PM, Apr 29, 2024

After a third person fell to their death in just three years, the community gathered Monday night to voice concerns about health, safety, and challenges with landlords while living near the Isla Vista bluffs.

"I was right next to him when he fell. I ran to the beach with all my friends, and we were the first ones there," said Jack Javier, UCSB student, and friend of Jacob Parker.

Javier was a close friend to 23-year-old Jacob Parker, the UCSB alum who fell to his death from a property along the bluffs on April 20 in Isla Vista.

Parker is one of 14 people who’ve lost their lives falling from the bluffs in the past 20 years, according to Santa Barbara County Supervisor Laura Capps.

Javier says Parker’s death was preventable.

"If the second layer of the fence was just a little bit higher it would have caught him," he said.

Many students agree that fencing would help prevent falls.

"Property owners on the bluffs need to raise their fence heights to six feet and they need to proactively do it," Capps said.

The supervisor hosted a listening session for students and tenants to voice opinions on the challenges and safety concerns they face daily. Around 20 people attended, several of whom knew of someone who had fallen or died. Long-time resident Henry Sarria lost a friend off the bluffs in 2014.

"We need to have more accountability, more responsibility, not just to ourselves but to those around us. If you see someone doing something ridiculous, say something," Sarria said.

Last November, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to amend county codes bringing the minimum fence heights along the bluffs to at least six feet and incentivizing private property owners to upgrade their fences along Del Playa by waiving all permitting fees. Yet, many properties have yet to upgrade.

"A lot of his friends and family say… if they did something earlier, he could have lived," Javier said.

In Isla Vista, Supervisor Capps is also working toward adding better lighting, accessible restrooms, educational outreach, and a commemorative memorial.