With Halloween less than a fortnight away, county and university officials are busy preparing for Isla Vista’s craziest night.
Notorious for its wild Halloween festivities, I.V. could see more than 65,000 revelers during the weekend, officials say. Over last year’s holiday, 45,000 people descended on Isla Vista, resulting in 220 arrests and more than 400 citations by the time the dust cleared. With this year’s Halloween falling on a Saturday, police officials, student organizations, university administration and local agencies are planning carefully for the wild weekend of drunken debauchery.
UCSB public parking for the weekend will now cost between $15 and $25 a car – a service that was free in previous years. Additionally, the Isla Vista Foot Patrol will be installing road blocks along Trigo Road, Sabado Tarde Road and Del Playa Drive to prevent vehicular violations and pedestrian injuries.
Cars must be removed from Del Playa and the 6500 block of Trigo, where the IVFP station is located, by 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30. In addition, Highway Patrol will be running and managing alcohol checkpoints in Isla Vista and Goleta.
Lt. Brian Olmstead of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol said one of the most stressful components of Halloween planning is dealing with parking.
“Normal, everyday parking is at a 100 percent maximum in I.V., so parking is going to be worse,” Olmstead said. “We want to stress that at 3:30 p.m. on Friday is when no parking areas will get enforced. I really don’t want to tow cars if we don’t have to.”
As in years past, all UCSB public parking will be closed from 5:00 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30 until 7:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 2. Those who wish to park their vehicles on campus over the weekend must obtain a 2009 Halloween permit – unlike years prior, however, it is no longer free of charge, costing $15 before Oct. 16 and $25 thereafter. This vehicle permit must also be displayed in order to drive onto campus during the weekend, as traffic checkpoints will restrict entry to enrolled UCSB students only.
According to Marc Fisher, senior associate vice chancellor of Administrative Services, a tough part of Halloween preparations lies in finding ways to permit people coming to campus for non-Halloween associated events to do so without trouble.
“Students within the impacted areas of Isla Vista are eligible to purchase Halloween parking permits,” Fisher said in an e-mail. “The impacted area is defined as the area south of Trigo Road. …[University] logistics involve placing fencing, preparing staffing plans and developing parking plans for students with Halloween permits as well as patrons for sporting and cultural events held on campus.”
Clayton Carlson, Associated Students external vice president of local affairs, said Los Carneros Road will be the only open entrance into Isla Vista, and proof of residency — either a copy of the lease or a bill with your name on it — will be required to get into I.V.
“It is a big change that the permits are no longer free, but the $15 dollar charge is not an effort for the university to make money since the parking office is still operating on a deficit; it is just because the Chancellor’s office isn’t subsiding money for parking as much as usual — just another unfortunate side-effect of the bigger budgetary situation affecting the state,” Carlson said. “We spoke to the director of parking services, however, and the rates shouldn’t be raised for the next five years.”
Lt. Olmstead said collaborating with local agencies and planning for such a huge event begins months in advance.
“The agencies we work with include Santa Barbara County Fire, university groups, university police, Emergency Medical Services, the ambulance companies, the hospitals, the city of Goleta, Public Works, Highway Patrol, county probation, Alcoholic Beverage Control, Search and Rescue and then we start talking to neighboring law enforcement agencies,” Olmstead said. “There will be over 240 law officers, and the entire operation entails well over 350 people from the different agencies.”
Olmstead said the event is inherently dangerous given the large amounts of alcohol consumption, thousands of visitors from out-of-town and Halloween falling on a Saturday night to boot.
“The majority of arrests usually involve out-of-towners, one reason being because locals are used to the law enforcement and laws here,” Olmstead said. “We’re unfortunately anticipating something close to last year. With Halloween on a Saturday, we’re thinking Friday and Saturday will be really busy.”
Meanwhile, Carlson said A.S. hopes to implement a 10 year plan to make Halloween a local affair in the future.
“We want members of each group — students, the university, county, transport, residents of Goleta and Santa Barbara — to pitch in for a focus group to make Halloween an event that everyone will be happy with,” Carlson said. “After experiencing the event this year and gauging all the hypothetical options to mitigate and make Halloween better, we hope to implement long term goals to project a more safe, clean and fun future for Halloween.”
In addition to informational posters and a mass mailing to every I.V. household, a Halloween town forum will take place at Embarcadero Hall on Oct. 20 from 7 to 9 p.m.