Officials Will Enforce Preexisting Festival Ordinance for Music at Gatherings of Over 500 People
Thousands of partygoers are expected to descend on the streets of Isla Vista for Deltopia this Saturday, and now local law enforcement officials are saying that Santa Barbara County Outdoor Festival Ordinance Section Six — which limits music that can be played during large gatherings — will be more strictly enforced.
SB Co. Ordinance 6-70, a county ordinance which defines an outdoor music festival as a gathering of 500 people or more, states partygoers or DJs who host music that can be heard from the street — at an event of 500 or more people — can be held responsible and charged with a misdemeanor. The penalty for holding such an event without a permit is up to a $500 fine and/or six months in jail. While penalties and fines are oftentimes increased during Halloween weekend, local officials have said that no such increases will be implemented for Deltopia 2014. There is also no official start and end time for the ordinance, which is expected to be enforced all weekend, and no additional ordinance is being implemented. During Halloween festivities in recent years, local law enforcement usually enforce the Halloween Noise Ordinance, or SBCO 6-70.01, which completely bans music heard from the street — at events of all sizes — between the hours of 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. for a specified period of days.
According to a post on the Deltopia Facebook event page by UCPD Sgt. Mark Signa, police will respond to anyone in violation of the ordinance, citing the death of a Cal Poly student at last years’ Deltopia.
“Anyone playing and/or hosting an event in violation of the ordinance will face a citation or arrest and potentially have their equipment seized,” Signa said in the statement. “Due to the death of Giselle Ayala and the numerous other people hurt last year, we are going to be very strict on any violations we see.”
Associated Students President Jonathan Abboud said he and many students were frustrated that the announcement came a few days before the event.
“This is completely unacceptable and, in my opinion, demeans our status as taxpayers of this county,” Abboud said. “Trust me, they would’ve done a lot more than a Facebook post at 2 a.m. for any other community in SB County.”
However, IVFP Station Lieutenant Rob Plastino said although section 6-70.01 — the Halloween Noise Ordinance — does not apply to Deltopia weekend explicitly, section code 6-72 — which requires licensing for outdoor music festivals — will apply. Also, SBCO 6-107 — which defines the misdemeanor penalty for violation of the code — will be in effect and enforced. According to an IVFP FAQ sheet on Deltopia, 6-70.01 covers Halloween festivities only, but all other parts of the code will remain enforced.
“The bottom line is Deltopia is an event that occurs in I.V. that is similar to Halloween,” Plastino said. “But what’s happened recently is that there are people that try to promote it as their own [event]. You can’t just set up a band or a DJ and start playing it, so a party spills out onto the street.”
According to Plastino, it is completely acceptable within the ordinance to play music during Deltopia, as long as it is not played for an audience of 500 people or more, otherwise it would be considered an outdoor festival and would require a permit to hold. Plastino said continued violations of the ordinance will result in heavier penalties — including possible confiscation of property, a ticket — or in the most extreme case — jail time. However, he said IVFP and other law enforcement agencies will not be looking for people who are inadvertently violating the ordinance.
“[It does not apply to] private celebrations with … friends, but targets those whose parties have people spilling out into the streets music festival-style,” Plastino said. “No one is following the law, you have to get business permits for this stuff.”
Plastino said there is no official host to Deltopia, making the need for facilities such as portable restrooms and security unfulfilled. He said the community-wide beach party could be more easily permitted by law enforcement if some party stepped up and took responsibility for the festivities.
“If someone came forward and said, ‘We want to be responsible,’ it’d be a much better event and we’d be okay with it,” Plastino said. “But the problem is everybody wants that, but nobody steps forward to take the responsibility.”
While the blaring house music that permeates Isla Vista during Deltopia could be considered part of Isla Vista’s culture, IVFP tends to not enforce the festival ordinance on regular weekends but plans to this weekend because “Deltopia is different.”
“We are hesitant to enforce this ordinance, but last year’s Deltopia was just insane,” Plastino said. “There was the death of Giselle Ayala, out-of-control crowds and the balcony that collapsed. Law enforcement were ill-equipped to deal with it.”
Plastino said although the problems were not directly caused by music, the playing of loud music tends to form large groups of people. He also said that by isolating the music to smaller groups and venues, law enforcement could better handle the weekend’s festivities.
Alexander Moore, External Vice President for Local Affairs at Associated Students, said he spoke to Sgt. Signa about better communicating this weekend’s restrictions to the student body.
“In the future, this needs to be better communicated with the student body, because otherwise, there is no one representing students and asking the hard questions,” Moore said. “However, I believe this incident was just a hiccup, and generally we have good communication with IVPF and Lt. Plastino.”
According to Moore, the measure is designed to “target public parties” rather than people who are there with friends and that IVPF will be working with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department to enforce occupancy limits.
“I’d like to stress that in no way does this increase enforcement that mitigates student’s ability to exercise your rights,” Moore said. “Should you happen to receive a citation you wish to challenge, the Associated Students Legal Resource Center is available to all UCSB students.”
Typical crimes that occur in Isla Vista will be received by the normal fine for a given offense and, according to Plastino, there will be no fine increases. Typical crimes include public drunkeness, possession of marijuana without a medical marijuana card, certain types of assault and minors in possession of alcohol, all of which are misdemeanor offenses subject to a maximum fine of $2,000, while open container violations are subject to $100 fines.
According to Plastino, in the case of more serious offenses such as sexual assault, assault causing great bodily injury and possession of illegal drugs — with the exception of medically authorized marijuana or prescription drugs — the person is in violation of a felony and could be subject to a multi-thousand dollar fine.
– Peter Mounteer contributed to this story.
Photo by Kenneth Song / Daily Nexus.
A version of this story appeared on page 1 of Wednesday, March 2nd, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
[Correction: A previous version of this article reported that serious offenses such as sexual assault, possession of illegal drugs and illegal possession of prescription drugs, and assault causing great bodily injuries were subject to a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to two years in prison time. That is incorrect. Such crimes may be subject to multi-thousand dollar fines and possible prison time.]