As Floatopia’s May 9 sequel approaches, locals gathered last night for a town hall meeting to discuss dealing with what many feel is the inevitable.

Despite the widespread attention and considerable flak the floating festival has received, yesterday’s forum drew barely 60 attendees. While some suggested planning more extensive beach clean-ups and promoting the event as “locals only,” others took a much stronger stance and discussed boycotting the beach party altogether.

The panel discussion – which included Isla Vista Foot Patrol Lt. Brian Olmstead, Associated Students President J.P. Primeau and other students – covered everything from UCSB’s reputation to the environmental impact. When the subject of safety was broached, Olmstead said that Floatopia was a recipe for disaster.

“The possibilities were truly endless,” Olmstead said. “The area is especially dangerous because evacuation is difficult because of the skinny beach access.”

Furthermore, faculty and students were concerned that the event will promote a negative image of UCSB. At last night’s forum, Professor Bradley Cardinale said that members of the National Science Foundation – an organization that grants money to UCSB every year for science programs – took note of Floatopia, causing panel members to fear that funding for science programs may suffer.

Despite the concerns from local officials, some feel that opposition to Floatopia has been overdramatic and that another Floatopia is unavoidable. Andrew Ballinger, a second-year electrical engineering major, said he doubted the event could be shut down.

“I think the administration has been overreacting,” Ballinger said. “Besides, students here love to party, I don’t think an environmental concern is going to stop them.”

Yehya Chawich, a fourth-year chemistry major and creator of the Facebook event, agreed that Floatopia 2 is likely to still occur. However, Chawich hopes that students will take more responsibility when attending the event.

“Personally, I thought Floatopia was fun,” Chawich said. “Cleanup was a little too much work. Everyone should take care of their own stuff … I personally tried to contact the Scuba Diving Club to maybe help clean up the ocean. I also created a Facebook event to help clean.”

The April 4 Floatopia – which witnessed 12,000 revelers pack onto Del Playa Beach – saw 13 physical bookings, 13 medical emergencies and nearly 70 citations left on the books. Floatopia 2, which had over 11,000 confirmed guests on Facebook before the event was removed, is set for May 9 and additional Facebook events have popped up in place of the sequel’s original invite.

Phi Sigma Kappa president and third-year biology major Shaun O’Hollaren said he plans to encourage his house to set a positive example for Floatopia 2.

“I would like to see Phi Sig boycott the event,” O’Hollaren said. “I don’t know if everyone will do that, but I hope a majority of the house will. I think we’ll send about 75 percent of our house to go down with trash bags to clean up the beach.”

According to 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr, county officials and student groups are working together to ensure that problems with public safety and environmental damage are avoided in future Floatopias.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of concern about another [Floatopia],” Farr said in an interview. “Public safety officials have been looking for ways in which they might be able to make the situation safer. We want to make sure there are safeguards in places so we don’t have the same situation.”

Lauren Cobbe of the Coastal Fund said several environmental groups are meeting to discuss options for a more effective cleanup. She cited a medic station, higher security and waste collection during the actual event as several ideas.

Additionally, Cardinale said that he plans to meet with the creators of Facebook’s 2010 Floatopia event to discuss creating a more positive event.

“I believe that we can have a sustainable Floatopia,” Cardinale said. “I’d love to be a part of a community that works hard and plays hard. I don’t think that’s a bad reputation to have.”

The panel members all emphasized the need for more open communication.

“There are a lot of students who care about the yin and yang of the event and there are other students who don’t even look at that and just think it’s another opportunity to party,” Primeau said. “It’s our responsibility to go out and educate those who aren’t here today about the pros and cons of the event.”