More than 15,000 people descended on Isla Vista last year for the annual "Deltopia" block party, and authorities aren’t sure what to expect for this weekend’s events.
Last year’s crowd was way bigger than expected, and law enforcement got 440 calls for service. They issued 23 arrests, 71 citations and had 44 people transported to the hospital.
Santa Barbara County is closing all area beaches for the weekend as usual, since the crackdown after the 2009 "Floatopia" event. After concerns about safety and excessive amounts of litter, students moved the party up to Del Playa in 2010 and have thrown the annual street party every year since.
Law enforcement agencies don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun, but want it to be a safe event, Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.
“We had a rowdy Deltopia last year where a young woman died falling off a cliff, a balcony collapsed resulting in serious injuries and we had a large volume of over-consumption of alcohol incidents,” Hoover said. “We are very concerned for the residents of Isla Vista, students and anyone who comes to IV for Deltopia, and our job and focus is to make sure it’s a safe event.”
There will be a heavy law enforcement presence and fire investigators to monitor the number of people inside residences and on balconies, Hoover said.
There are extra eyes on Del Playa Drive this year, and not just from the dozens of extra cops patrolling the streets this weekend.
There are portable camera poles installed throughout Isla Vista, which was a big surprise for students returning from spring break, KEYT reported.
Following the series of violent crimes in Isla Vista recently, the cameras were installed as a crime-fighting tool for the Deltopia event, Hoover said. Even though UC Santa Barbara rented the cameras, the Sheriff’s Department is controlling them, UCSB news director George Foulsham said.
“UCSB will not have access to the live cameras and will not have operational control,” he said.
There’s no end date for the cameras yet; that will be decided by the Sheriff’s Department and UCSB, Hoover said.
UC Santa Barbara Police, which partners with the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, is increasing its patrols and will bring in about 100 additional officers from other University of California campuses, California State University Channel Islands, Lompoc Police, Santa Barbara Police and Santa Maria Police departments.
The sheriff’s Search & Rescue Team will be there all weekend along with paramedics, County Fire and county emergency medical services to coordinate the walk-in first aid shelter at Embarcadero del Mar and Trigo Road, Hoover said.
Trigo Road will be closed from the Isla Vista Theater to the Isla Vista Foot Patrol station this weekend for law enforcement, fire and paramedic use, Hoover said.
Unlike Halloween, there won’t be any parking restrictions or traffic closures on Del Playa Drive. UCSB will restrict some on-campus parking though, Foulsham said.
Also unique from Halloween is the rule against loud music.
Deputies will enforce the county’s festival ordinance, which requires a permit for any music that draws a large crowd. So far, no one has gone through the permitting process, Hoover said.
“If you’re playing in the residence, that’s fine, but if you’re playing to the masses where you’re drawing a crowd, then that is in violation of the festival ordinance and it’s a misdemeanor offense,” she said. “We don’t want to see DJs coming in and playing to a large crowd because taxpayers end up footing the bill for that, for an expensive party with property damage and trash and a lack of security.”
The Deltopia events have been largely organized over social media and draw many people from outside the South Coast area. Law enforcement and UCSB student leaders have been trying to make Deltopia and Halloween local events.
The idea that people need wristbands to attend, however, is just a scam, Hoover said.
“With all the bad press UCSB and Isla Vista have received this past winter quarter, let us come together and not exasperate the potential for more problems in our community,” Associated Students president Jonathan Abboud wrote on Facebook. “We need a culture change if we want to keep Deltopia fun, and that change is not to end the event but to keep it to just residents of IV.”