Letters to the Editor / Opinion

Bring Back Floatopia

I’m a parent of a UC Student, and I find it totally reprehensible to see the blatant provocation of the Santa Barbara Sheriffs for their role in instigating the riots in I.V. First, they banned Floatopia — a peaceful, fun loving, float-oriented day at the beach — ostensibly because there was too much drinking and partying. Hey, can we say Spring break? This was a patently ridiculous move by the Sheriff’s office. This after all, was a celebration that had a tradition for over a decade and it was recently nixed four years ago. The apparent reason offered was there was too much “pollution.” If the 25,000 attendees drove to another venue to celebrate, the “pollution” levels would be geometrically higher. The real pollution is in the minds of those who enacted the ban: political grinches, using the Sheriffs as their enforcers.

Seriously, who in their right mind would have come up with the idea that students can’t have a joyful beach party once a year? Can the person taking credit, please raise their hand? Apparently, there are cruel, vengeful, spiteful people who apparently have never had a childhood or dreamt a dream.

Devastated, the students fashioned a creative and fun alternative — they took their energy and collective need for partying to Deltopia; a land locked street party in I.V. This event, now in its third year, was a creative alternative to Floatopia and an answer to the fascistic, no-beach-partying dictum. Tens of thousands of folks from outside the area planned to attend, along with the tens of thousands of Santa Barbara students, but unfortunately, that was “unacceptable.” The Sheriff sent out emails and texts to students a week before the event: “no music permitted.” Thereby essentially banning that event. WTF? The Sheriff’s department clearly has too much time on their hands, or an alternative and more sinister motive. I think it was the latter.

Are they kidding? Is this the Kremlin? Have they forgotten that UCSB is the bread and butter, both a major economic engine and cultural institution of the county? I understand passing royal edicts and banning popular events may be popular with some power-mad political classes, but really banning Deltopia? Particularly after banning Floatopia, this is too much to countenance. This is the tail wagging the dog. Someone needs to sue the Sheriffs and the county so they can get the message — lighten up and let the students have their Floatopia back.

It gets worse. What was unknown is that Sheriff’s office had both planned and instigated a riot. According to multiple student reports, at the start of Deltopia, the Sheriffs were literally going house to house in I.V., confiscating speakers and amplifiers being played in homes and adding insult to injury — citing the students for playing the music! The students and their guests poured out to the street angrily. Who wouldn’t? When was the last time storm troopers acted so heavy handed in I.V. and in your own home no less?

The Sheriffs knew their actions would elicit push-back and I’m now thinking that that with the increasing militarization of our nation’s police forces (the Department of Homeland Security has been subsidizing local police departments with crowd control gear) the Sheriffs were itching for a fight and wishing to try out all their swat gear and crowd control equipment, and they did. No stone was left unturned, they beat and tear gassed student, conducted mass arrests, etc.

How many readers believe a riot would have ensued without the heavy-handed, bullying intervention of the Sheriff’s department? If the Sheriff’s department would have been mere casual observers of Deltopia, as they had been in the past two years? If they had, no riot would have ensued. Without the aggressive, confrontational and militarized Sheriff’s tactics, which unleashed every tactical tool in their toolbox — including calling in all local police departments for a larger show of force — Deltopia would have a simple, sun-filled, spring day of partying in I.V.

The solution? Bring Floatopia back and restore peace to the world.

 Adam Sparks is a parent of a UC student.

Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are primarily submitted by students.
This is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.
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  1. 1994 Alum and current parent says:

    I find it hard to believe that this was written by a parent. As a parent myself, I am most interested in my child’s education, not how they turn their living area into a raging party. Really “Adam Sparks”, you feel that after spending about $30,000 a year, that your son or daughter should be focused on their right to party? I understand the need to experience life and I know first hand how this can make a more well rounded person that can appreciate certain things in life. But it also made me look back and realize how lucky I was to make good decisions that didn’t ruin my future. The Sheriffs are out there doing their job and anyone that would blame them for what happened – especially after viewing all the YouTube video, news coverage, and selfies posted all over the web – must have an overall disdain for law enforcement. Floatopia or Deltopia, they both distract from what Isla Vista should become. Read the great article by Roozbeh Kaboli, ’08 Alum. It’s a balanced outlook that I think most parents would be interested in reading. Most of all, the community should work together to create an atmosphere that caters to the diverse community of IV, which includes families, long time residents, businesses, children, elderly, and, of course, college students.

  2. Adam Sparks says:

    Matt, you said out of towners are at fault. However, there have been numerous previous deltopias and floatopias and Halloween parties with the same percentage of out of towners but no riots. Why blame them now? Any evidence to support your theory? Or are you just being provincial?

    • tinklejoss says:

      Some parts I agree with… the largest source of fecal matter and consequently coliform bacteria in the Santa Barbara Channel is the continuous, 24/7 leaking of City of Santa Barbara sewage pipes. Beach sampling always proves this, the levels near the City continuously greatly exceed what was seen during Floatopias. The Floatopias didn’t even move the needle on any measurable water pollution statistic. Didn’t stop the hyperventilating UCSB faculty & staff or County bureaucrats from shutting down Floatopia over pollution concerns.

      Surfers pee in the ocean around here day in day out; the cumulative effect also greatly exceeds Floatopia.

      The more reasonable fear during Floatopias was a drunken young person drowning. There was no mechanism for lifeguards.

      As for Deltopia and the usual IV riots: IV riots have been going on since at least 1962, maybe even during the 1950′s when they were called panty raids. The mechanism appears to be pretty much reliable: a young person does something violent, unwise, stupid, or some combination. A LE officer apprehends them. Maybe there is a fight. Most of a crowd doesn’t see what really happened, and just sees the aftermath: a LE officer whomping on a young person, or yelling at them to shut up and stay still, or something. The crowd does not give the LE officer the benefit of the doubt and gets unruly. Sometimes the situation spirals down into what happened last weekend.

      The County Deputies have the problem that: when all you have are hammers, all your problems look like nails. They aren’t that good at outwitting the crowd or using real-time explanations to damp out the unruly crowd. But they are basically in the right and resent the crowd turning against them.

  3. Matt Meyer says:

    Is… is this satire?

    The reason Floatopia was cancelled is because it destroyed the beach. Without any official host to claim responsibility for clean up, the environment suffered horribly. Go to YouTube and look up the aftermath.. tell me that Floatopia was cancelled because “there was too much drinking and partying”.

    And blaming the sheriff department for the riots last weekend? Give me a break. To disagree with their choice to shut down parties and turn off music is one thing. To completely ignore the fact that the riots main cause was the influx of individuals from out of town, who didn’t care about the community and openly destroyed it, is another. Look at the statistics regarding the percentage of arrests that were for non-SB students.

    “How many readers believe a riot would have ensued without the heavy-handed, bullying intervention of the Sheriff’s department?”… this reader, and I’m sure many others. Say what you want about the sheriff department’s tactics – only one thing caused the riot last weekend – violent and reckless individuals throwing bottles, ripping stop signs out of the ground, and generally disrespecting the people who call this place home.

    I actually agree that the IVFP often focuses on enforcing the wrong crimes in Isla Vista. But to blame the sheriffs, who risked their necks to protect the place UCSB students call home, proves that you are insanely out of touch.

    • You’re both right, and you’re both wrong. It was pretty much all the things both of you raise as a number of dynamics contributed to what happened.

      Are the cops solely to blame? No, but they share in the blame.
      Are out-of-towners to blame. Yes, to a large extent but, again, not solely.
      Throw in the UCSB admin with their paternalism and cameras, and we start to see a stew form that isn’t so easy to separate.
      It’s also just a series of events that occurred in a chain that one simply can not blame but rather attempt to explain logically and objectively devoid of emotion.

      • Matt Meyer says:

        You’re right to say that a variety of factors led to the events last weekend. If I could redact my “only one thing” comment, I would.

        It would be a more accurate expression of my opinion to say that other factors – namely unruly out of towners – were MORE to blame than the sheriff’s department for the riots.

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