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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 9:20 pm | Fair 54º


Estimated 10,000 Revelers Pack Deltopia, But Isla Vista Avoids Repeat of Last Year’s Violence

Annual unsanctioned party draws much smaller attendance than last-year's alcohol-fueled mayhem

Crowds at the Deltopia street party in Isla Vista were much smaller Saturday than at last year’s violence-plagued bash.
Crowds at the Deltopia street party in Isla Vista were much smaller Saturday than at last year’s violence-plagued bash. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

As the clock ticked toward Easter Sunday, local law-enforcement officials were expressing relief late Saturday that they had not seen a repeat of the violence and other problems that marred last year’s massive Deltopia street party in Isla Vista.

Crowds throughout the day and night were much smaller than last year — about 10,000 overall compared to more than 20,000 a year ago, according to Kelly Hoover, spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

“We’re very pleased with the lower turnout, and are hoping that it’s an indication that locals are continuing with the sentiment they had at Halloween that they are not inviting out-of-towners,” Hoover told Noozhawk.

The day was not without its problems — by 11 p.m., 102 people had been arrested and 140 had been cited, mainly for alcohol-related offenses, Hoover said. Only three of the arrests were felonies, she added.

She said county firefighters and paramedics were kept busy with medical calls — many for alcohol poisoning — and nine people were transported to area hospitals.

As darkness began to fall over the densely populated community adjacent to UC Santa Barbara, authorities said they were “cautiously optimistic” that they would get through the unsanctioned Deltopia celebration without any major incidents. Nevertheless, Hoover emphasized, officers and deputies were remaining vigilant.

“What’s difficult with Deltopia is it’s an all-day and all-night drinking fest,” Hoover said. “Problems can arise as people get more and more intoxicated.”

By early evening Saturday, deputies and officers had arrested 102 people and cited 140 others at the Deltopia street party in Isla Vista. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

Several hours later, Hoover confirmed that the efforts of Isla Vista residents, UCSB, the City of Goleta and public-safety personnel had been effective in dialing down the Deltopia craziness.

“We truly believe the students should receive a great deal of credit for the role they played in not inviting people from out of town,” Hoover said.

For months, public-safety officials had been planning for the annual street party, which fell on Easter weekend this year.

They took measures to crack down on parking and noise-ordinance enforcement Saturday, and Del Playa Drive was closed to parking and motor-vehicle traffic.

Officers also blocked local beaches, which had been the scene of the “​Floatopia” parties that preceded Deltopia. The last major Floatopia was held in 2009 when thousands of young people descended on the beach to party, leaving the shoreline trashed.

Authorities closed the beaches the next year, so organizers renamed the party Deltopia and moved it to Del Playa Drive on the bluff above. Del Playa and other nearby streets were packed with young people Saturday.

Hoover noted that many locals seemed to be sending a strong message that outsiders were not welcome at their parties.

“One group I spoke to from L.A. said they were having a hard time getting into any parties,” she said.

Law-enforcement officials said earlier in the week that they were planning for 15,000 college- and high school-age people to descend on the community this weekend. Several hundred police and sheriff’s deputies were working the area.

More than 20,000 people showed up for Deltopia last year, and authorities arrested 130 people, issued 190 citations and responded to 520 calls for service the night of April 5, a Saturday. Extra officers were called in to deal with ​civil unrest that erupted late that night.

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, more people were filling the streets in Isla Vista, according to county Fire Capt. David Zaniboni.

“It’s pretty crowded out here,” he said. “The streets are full.”

The afternoon had been quiet and “pretty mellow,” but as the hours got later, more people were showing up, he said.

The county Fire Department had increased staffing for the event, and had about 10-12 extra staff in the area to deal with medical calls, including two paramedic teams on foot, another paramedic team in a pickup truck to service outlying areas, extra supervisors, one extra battalion chief, and extra staff with an ambulance on the UCSB campus.

“That’ll come in handy later tonight,”​ Zaniboni said, because students who had been drinking in Isla Vista earlier may come back to their dorms intoxicated and need medical care.

“We end up getting a lot of calls on campus,” he said.

Extra county firefighters will be on call until 8 a.m. Sunday, and it was unclear what the night would bring in Isla Vista.

“It’s a controlled crowd for sure, but it’s early,”​ Zaniboni said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). This story includes reporting from Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Saturday’s Deltopia street party in Isla Vista was mostly a local affair, and much quieter than last year, authorities say. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)
Saturday’s Deltopia street party in Isla Vista was mostly a local affair, and much quieter than last year, authorities say. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

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