The Santa Barbara County Parks Department will close Isla Vista beaches to the public for the second straight weekend, April 9-10, in an effort to prevent Floatopia, an all-day beach party that has attracted more than 14,000 confirmed guests on Facebook.
“The closure is being declared to prevent a recurrence of the conditions that resulted from the 2009 Floatopia,” County Parks said in a news release. “The Santa Barbara County Code (Section 26-11) authorizes the Parks Department to close any county recreation area, including beaches.”
Posts on the Facebook event page indicate the date or location is not set in stone, listing April 2 and April 9 as the most likely dates. Partygoers took to the streets of Del Playa last weekend, but poor weather put a damper on the day, with Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies and the Isla Vista Foot Patrol standing by.
The Sheriff’s Department reported no major incidents during last weekend’s beach closure, and it plans to increase the number of deputies patrolling Isla Vista again this weekend.
Floatopia began as an event unique to Isla Vista, where students would flock to the beach to enjoy music, drinking and floating atop the ocean blue. Before social networking caught on, Floatopia was a much more manageable event, boasting no more than 1,000 people in 2008 and a mere 300 in 2007, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
But once an event was created on Facebook in 2009 and mass invites were sent out, the allure of drunken revelry and thumping music under the sun attracted partygoers from all over the nation. Since then, many cities, including San Diego and San Luis Obispo, have tried to host their own Floatopia events, with varied success.
“Following the Floatopia event of 2009, the beaches at Isla Vista were left strewn with trash and debris, including human waste,” the county said in the news release. “This large-scale event with thousands of participants had no provision for the health and well-being of the public, including no facilities for human sanitation or refuse collection. The County of Santa Barbara, therefore, took action to close the Isla Vista beaches for a similar event in 2010.”
In 2009, Floatopia drew more than 10,000 people and led to 13 arrests, 78 citations for alcohol-related offenses and dozens of people hospitalized with alcohol poisoning, heat exposure and other injuries.