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Wednesday, November 21 , 2018, 9:04 am | Mostly Cloudy 60º


Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days Fiesta Weekend Mostly Calm, Despite Cascarone Controversy

State tax agents apologize for confetti egg crackdown and police report no major crime incidents during Fiesta

bike ride Click to view larger
Santa Barbara police report no major crime incidents, but plenty of citations issued, during the four days of Old Spanish Days, including the unofficial Sunday Fiesta ride to Isla Vista. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

The annual Old Spanish Days Fiesta brought controversy over a crackdown on confetti eggs, but local law enforcement reported no major incidents of crime for the four-day Santa Barbara event. 

"We are pleased that Old Spanish Days was a successful and well attended event," said Anthony Wagner, spokesman for the Santa Barbara Police Department. 

Authorities arrested 20 people on suspicion of committing felony crimes between Wednesday and Sunday, with the bulk — 14 — on Friday and Saturday nights. Law enforcement also made 73 misdemeanor arrests, with 23 on Thursday, 16 on Friday and 18 on Saturday.

The most notable crimes were drug related, according to police.

Authorities on Thursday arrested two alleged Santa Maria gang members on suspicion of possession of drugs for sales, being felons in possession of a firearm, and several other charges related to drug sales.

On Friday, authorities arrested four more people from Santa Maria and found nine bindles of heroin totaling about 6 grams, three heroin-loaded hypodermic syringes, 8 grams of methamphetamine, and $700 in cash believed to be related to illegal narcotics sales. The four individuals were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of a variety of drug possession charges. 

Police also issued more than 200 citations during Fiesta, including 67 traffic citations and 86 parking citations. 

The Fiesta attracted smaller crowds than in years past, said Joshua Morton, acting lieutenant for the SBPD Special Operations Division. 

"On Saturday night at least there appeared to be less people out downtown for the late night hours than in past years," he said.

confetti eggs Click to view larger
Dozens of mostly unlicensed vendors sell cascarones and other items on State Street during Santa Barbara’s annual Old Spanish Days.  (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

The police department budgeted to spend $355,000 in additional law enforcement costs for this year's Fiesta activities and Morton said the city spent about $326,000 in 2017. 

The Fiesta revelry may have been overshadowed by state tax agents attempting to crack down on cascarone vendors downtown for not registering to pay taxes on the 25 cent eggs they sold over the four days.

After a public uproar and opposition from the city of Santa Barbara, the agents swiftly reversed course and issued an apology within 48 hours.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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