With Floatopia 2 on the horizon, campus and county officials are cringing at the prospect of dealing with the fallout from another ballooning beachside celebration.
Although the remnants of Floatopia 1 are still washing up on the shore below Del Play Drive, the sequel — which is scheduled for May 9 — already has 11,000 confirmed guests on Facebook. Michael Young, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, said the majority of the administration is vehemently against hosting a second inflatable festival.
“To be quite candid, I think that Floatopia is inherently irresponsible and dangerous,” Young said. “I don’t understand how you invite 11,000 people to [Del Playa Beach] knowing the impact they will have on the environment. Just the crap that will be left, the urine and the defecation in the ocean, how the sea life will be affected. It’s alarming to myself that another one is planned, and many of my colleagues feel that same way.”
Following the April 4 Floatopia — which saw 12,000 revelers pack into Del Playa Beach — 13 physical bookings, 13 medical emergencies and nearly 70 citations were left on the books. In light of these numbers, Lt. Brian Olmsted of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol said he expects a heightened police presence for Floatopia 2.
“I anticipate that due to the response to what we’ve seen on Facebook and what happened after the last event, there will be an increase in the amount of staff [for Floatopia 2],” Olmsted said. “We are evaluating right now what the staff levels will be and our response.”
While some community members have accepted the fate of a second Floatopia, Young said the campus and local community could stop the event.
“I’m not prepared to accept that Floatopia 2 has to happen,” Young said. “But the students have to decide that it doesn’t have to happen. Everyone that goes down there, participates and puts hundred of people at physical risk, they are making a conscious and willful choice to do so.”
Amid the controversy surrounding the event, Associated Student’s President J.P. Primeau said he believes Floatopia 2 will fail to rival its predecessor.
“On May 9, I think we’re going to see a much smaller event that is much more local, hopefully. I say that with my fingers crossed,” Primeau said.
Primeau said ideas to improve the safety at the second beachfront float fest, such as a first aid tent sponsored by A.S. and a team of student volunteer lifeguards, are in the works.
Olmsted said Floatopia 2 has the potential to attract a countywide crackdown, although the tools will not be in place come this May. However, due to the increase in potential injuries, he said the county may have to adopt a system to deal with the influx of patients to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital.
“The amount of alcohol abuse and the proximity to the water … It’s just a recipe for disaster,” Olmsted said. “I could see stuff similar to Halloween such as a Triage system [a method of prioritizing patients based on the severity of their conditions] to regulate how many patients go to the ER.”
Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said she has yet to meet with other county departments to form a coordinated approach to coping with Floatopia 2.
Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said although the university’s aim is not to encroach on the tradition, this year’s Floatopia, as well as its upcoming reincarnation, damage the image of the university.
“At a time when we are in dialogue with our community about our Long Range Development Plan and reminding the community of all the good things that UCSB does for it, this event has really hurt our reputation and done a great disservice to all of the students that do care,” Lucas said in a prepared statement.