With thousands of students returning to Isla Vista after spring break, local authorities are preparing for “Deltopia,” the community’s unsanctioned spring street party that in some past years has led to dozens of arrests and medical calls.
This year’s party, expected to take place either the weekend of April 3 or April 10, poses an even greater safety risk as Santa Barbara County is still coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The stakes are so much higher this year going into spring quarter because we still have the pandemic going on,” Spencer Brandt, Isla Vista Community Services District board president, told Noozhawk. “I really encourage residents to heed caution. We’re not out of the woods yet; we’re in a race against time with the development and spread of these new virus variants that are more contagious.”
The city of Goleta will enforce temporary parking restrictions in the neighborhoods surrounding Isla Vista, beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, to discourage out-of-town visitors from coming to the community for the weekend.
“The city of Goleta is committed to ensuring the safety of our neighborhoods, and will continue with our temporary parking permit program that goes into effect twice a year, during Deltopia and Halloween,” said Jaime Shaw, spokesperson for the city.
“Over the past several years, the city’s temporary permit-only on-street parking program for residents near Isla Vista was implemented and deemed successful in dissuading party-goers from parking in the Goleta neighborhoods closest to Isla Vista and easing the impacts felt by residents.”
The temporary restrictions will be in effect from 7 p.m. on Friday, April 2, through 7 a.m. on Saturday, April 3, and then for the same hours for the evening of April 3 through the morning of Sunday, April 4, Shaw said.
Should Deltopia occur the following weekend, the parking restrictions will be in place for the same hours from April 9 through 11.
Parking permits will be issued for the Goleta neighborhoods closest to Isla Vista, including the University 1 and 2 neighborhoods and the Cannon Green Condominium complex, Shaw said. The boundaries run from Cannon Green Drive to the west, Hollister Avenue to the north, Storke Road to the east, and Whittier Drive to the south, she added.
Each household in those areas should have received two parking passes in their mailbox by March 26. The permits are to be taped to the inside of the vehicle’s driver-side window during the restricted hours, Shaw said. Any vehicles not displaying the passes will be subject to ticketing and/or towing.
The city will post signage on the streets in advance to remind drivers of the restrictions, and electronic message boards will be placed at several entrances to the University 1 and 2 neighborhoods, according to Shaw.
Additionally, the Santa Barbara County Community Services Department is closing the Isla Vista beaches from Friday through Sunday this weekend and next, for the potential Deltopia event. Fencing will be placed around select beach entrances over those two weekends, said Jeff Lindgren, County Parks Department assistant director.
“Following the Floatopia event of 2009, the beaches at Isla Vista were left strewn with trash and debris, including human waste,” said George Chapjian, community services director. “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.”
“Therefore, the county of Santa Barbara has acted to close the Isla Vista beaches for similar events since 2010.”
No overnight visitor parking or overnight visitors will be allowed in campus or university-owned housing on Friday and Saturday, according to UC Santa Barbara spokeswoman Andrea Estrada.
The parking restrictions will cease between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., she added.
Expanded parking lot patrols will include the ticketing and towing of all vehicles that don’t have approved permits, and campus checkpoints will be set up beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, Estrada said.
University police will be placing fencing on Camino Majorca, from Del Playa Drive to Pasado Road in Isla Vista, from Wednesday through April 6, and on Phelps Road, from Pacific Oaks Road to Common Green Drive, on Thursday through April 5, Estrada said.
“The restrictions are meant to ensure the safety of students and of the broader community during the annual event formerly known as Deltopia,” Estrada said.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office would like to encourage people to keep the weekend event local, as it has been over the past several years, said Raquel Zick, sheriff’s public information officer.
“We’re not clear of the pandemic. We’re seeing in other areas of the nation where people are enjoying spring break and seeing spikes of COVID afterward,” Zick said. “We would like people to keep that in mind. If they are planning to travel, people need to know that there are parking restrictions in place.”
“It will be hard to find places to park their cars, and that is intentional.”
The Sheriff’s Office will be enforcing the festival noise ordinance from Friday through Sunday this weekend and next, Zick said.
The noise ordinance is in place between the hours of 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. on those weekends, she added. A citation for violating the noise ordinance carries a fine of $500, according to Brandt.
The presence of Isla Vista Foot Patrol officers will be “scaleable” in correlation to the attendance for the weekend, Zick said.
Brandt said that he would like to remind the community that the county’s COVID-19 health officer order is still in place for large gatherings. He said that he encourages residents to report gatherings to the Sheriff’s Office non-emergency hotline and file a noise complaint.
“If residents give their name, law enforcement will be able to follow up in a more timely manner than they will with a complaint received for a large gathering,” he said.
UC Santa Barbara’s Associated Students is holding a virtual concert on Saturday evening to provide students with an alternative to partying, according to Yasamin Salari, A.S. external vice president for local affairs.
IVCSD has been handling a door-to-door outreach campaign in which it delivers flyers and door hangers that have all the information regarding the noise ordinance as well as ways community members can stay safe.
Brandt said that he encourages everyone to get tested for the novel virus as soon as they get back from traveling and before Deltopia weekend takes place. A Public Health free testing site is held at Isla Vista Theater, located at 960 Embarcadero Del Norte, on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m.
“We’re working to figure out some incentives for people to get tested,” Brandt said, adding that the first 100 people to get tested at the theater on Saturday will receive a $25 gift card to support local businesses and give people an extra incentive.
A.S., in collaboration with the UCSB Office of Student Life, will also be giving away 1,000 $25 DoorDash vouchers to UCSB students who commit to getting tested during the first two weeks of spring quarter, wear a mask, avoid large gatherings, and take a picture with a mask on using the hashtag #April_3_inIV, Salari said.
The campus’ recreation center will also be holding a “Stay N’ Play” event on Saturday afternoon from 3 to 6 p.m. where students can earn up to $1,000 in giveaways.
“With the good news of the vaccination age being lowered to 16 beginning April 15, the realization of those things are still off in the distance, and we really need to remain vigilant at the beginning of spring quarter,” Brandt said. “I’m really hoping that we see a reflection of what happened last year where Deltopia was basically non-existent.”
“Residents did the right things, they stayed in their own households. No one is telling you not to have fun, just do it in a responsible manner in the safety of your own home.”