Sunday, October 22 , 2017, 9:28 pm | Fair 58º


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UCSB Officials, Student Leaders Decry ‘Deltopia’ Violence

Numbers point to out-of-town visitors in Isla Vista for the bulk of aggression and citations during the unsanctioned street party

[Scroll down to see a video of Saturday's Deltopia.]

As darkness fell Saturday night during the annual “Deltopia” street party in Isla Vista, so did the happy-go-lucky spirits of thousands of drunken revelers — many of whom were out-of-towners attending an unsanctioned event that has been marred by trouble in recent years.

UC Santa Barbara officials on Monday joined the chorus of authorities and some residents pointing fingers at those visiting from outside Santa Barbara County as primary instigators of the crime and violence that unfolded over the weekend in the student-dominated community adjacent to the campus.

Leaders of the university’s Associated Students more readily placed partial blame on UCSB students, however, calling for an independent civil grand jury investigation into the aggressive event to prevent a reoccurrence.

Preliminary reports show about 80 percent of those arrested and cited last weekend were from out of the area, according to Kelly Hoover, a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman.

Once day turned to night Saturday, many local students headed to house parties, leaving some visitors quite literally out in the cold — a large number still dressed as if they were at the beaches, which were all closed in anticipation of the event synonymous with citations, medical calls for alcohol poisoning and litter.

At least six law-enforcement officers were injured in the rioting and “civil unrest” that followed, along with dozens of others who were hospitalized or arrested.

The university referred to the annual gathering, a spin-off of the former “Floatopia” celebration on the sand, as an “unsanctioned event” that it discouraged students from participating in.

Officials extended thanks to first-responders, and wished the injured a quick recovery.

“Unfortunately, it also draws large numbers from outside the Santa Barbara area who typically represent the largest percentage of arrests and citations during the event,” university spokesman George Foulsham said in a statement. “The unsanctioned event is a serious concern for the university as well as many Isla Vista residents.

Piles of trash and debris littered the streets of Isla Vista on Sunday in the wake of a violent night during the Deltopia street party. (John Palminteri / KEYT News photo)

“The actions of some of the participants involved in (Saturday) night’s incidents were outrageous and extremely dangerous,” he said. “Any of our students found to have violated the law or university policies are subject to university sanctions.”

Although Isla Vista is not within the university’s jurisdiction, Foulsham said, UCSB has worked closely with the Sheriff’s Department to promote safety.

Visiting and local UC campus police were among the more than 130 law enforcement personnel assigned to the Deltopia event, not including the reinforcements called in to help control the violence.

Hoover said a 17-year-old from Los Angeles smashed a UCSB police officer in the face with a backpack full of alcohol bottles on the 6700 block of Del Playa, but his name was not being released because he’s a juvenile.

Other officers were struck with bricks, prompting deployment of tear gas and rubber bullets and the arrests of about 18 people.

Hoover said she didn’t know if the juvenile was in custody, and she said authorities were still searching for several suspects, aided by footage from the recently installed video cameras.

More official statistics, including how much the county spent on law enforcement, were expected in coming days.

Hoover said at least 15,000 young people descended on Isla Vista, the same number that showed up for the weekend last year.

The 2013 event was tarnished by the death of a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student who fell from the cliffs, and a balcony collapse that sent several people to the hospital.

In a statement Monday, the executive officers of UCSB’s Associated Students said they “mourned” the injury of the police officers and community members.

“What happened the night of April 5, 2014, in Isla Vista was tragic, and the students of UCSB are in part to blame for it,” wrote Alex Moore, external vice president of local affairs. “Any large event held in such an unofficial capacity is doomed to end in chaos.

“The time has come for a new process by which we address major events in Isla Vista, even those that are not officially sanctioned by the county or the university.”

Moore called for an investigation — containing no students, elected officials, law enforcement or other direct stakeholders — into the event’s timeframe, when police force escalated, and why the evening took a terrible turn.

He said current efforts to promote safety in Isla Vista were “inadequate,” noting that students play a key role in effecting change.

Third District county Supervisor Doreen Farr said she was grateful no one was killed during the incident, and said she hopes students would help lead a larger effort to control what she called a “bad change” in the community.

“I think that, like everybody, I was just really shocked and angered and saddened by what happened, particularly those people that were hurt,” Farr told Noozhawk. “I think at this point, these un-sponsored events organized on social media … just can’t happen. Somebody has to be responsible for it."

Future events should involve permits and special licenses, she said, adding that a non-student Isla Vista resident planned to soon host a meeting to air concerns and to devise an action plan.

“That’s an enormous cost for this county and for the taxpayers,” Farr said. “More and more it seems like people who come from out of town are not even invited by people who live here. For some reason now, just recently, the response (to authorities) is different.

"Rather than respecting law enforcement … they’re turning on law enforcement, and that seems to be what kind of triggered this.”

University officials echoed a need to prevent future violent altercations.

“In the coming months, we look forward to discussions with local government officials, law enforcement, Santa Barbara City College administration, and our own students on ways to address the events of last night, and hopefully prevent them from taking place in the future,” Foulsham said.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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