Deltopia crowds were estimated to be as low as 6,000 and as high as 8,000 this year, up from approximately 3,500 the year before, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (SBSO).
According to preliminary figures from SBSO spokesperson Kelly Hoover, Deltopia crowds were up from the previous year but still significantly lower than in 2014, when approximately 20,000 to 25,000 people attended.
This year’s Deltopia saw 42 arrests and 68 citations, a slight increase in citations and decrease in arrests from 2016 though attendance nearly doubled, but still down significantly from 2014, which saw 190 citations and 130 arrests, according to Hoover.
There were 14 medical transports this year, up from 10 in 2016 and nine in 2015, but still much lower than the 50 in 2014.
Ethan Bertrand, chair of the Isla Vista Community Services District’s board of directors, said while there were still disturbances that occurred during Deltopia, it was a safe event overall.
“It seems like lots of residents had a good time at Deltopia. There were incidents that took place, but overall it was a safe event,” Bertrand said. “I think it marks a continual culture change in Isla Vista for a safer Deltopia weekend.”
Bertrand said he noticed much more community involvement in trying to keep Deltopia safe, as multiple organizations participated in keeping the atmosphere positive.
“We’re seeing much more community buy-in than we ever have before in the effort to make it a safe event,” he said. “In all of it [there were] people promoting positivity, people looking out for their neighbors, people connecting those in need with resources and just making sure that Deltopia is the safest event that it can be.”
Jay Freeman, board member of the I.V. CSD, spoke about the community’s feeling toward police, attributing the positive perception this year to the lack of horses. Freeman said the horses can give a negative impression and that fewer police helped improve the atmosphere.
Freeman said the relationship between safety and entertainment is difficult to manage and he is unsure whether Deltopia has found the appropriate balance yet.
“Safety is a trade-off, and we need to ask ourselves, ‘What amount of fun do we want to have for what amount of risk?’” Freeman said. “I do not know if Deltopia is at the right balance, but I do know that just trying to shut down parties and shut down events indiscriminately, yes, that will make things safer, but at what point do we simply say no music ever?”
Police broke up approximately 12 parties because of “safety concerns” and alleged law violations, such as overcrowding, underage drinking and debris being thrown from balconies of residences.
Hoover said crowds diminished after the noise ordinance was instituted at 6 p.m. and further dispersed after 7 p.m. to attend the university-sponsored concert, The Warm Up. The concert held its third iteration at the Thunderdome on Saturday, with artists Destructo and RL Grime taking the stage.
University-led initiatives like The Warm Up and the UC Isla Vista (UCIV) program, as well as a county-instated festival ordinance from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., have aimed at minimizing unrest at Deltopia.
UCIV, an Associated Students (A.S.) Public Safety Commission project, sent approximately 100 volunteers to notify students of the ordinance and other laws that would affect them, as well as hand out condoms, cookies and water, according to the commission’s chair Jenna Pack.
Pack said she thought this year’s Deltopia was “1000-percent better” than the year before.
“There was a lot less chaos, a lot less people, a lot less havoc,” Pack said. “We saw a lot less crime going on.”