The County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to permanently ban alcohol from the beach below Del Playa Drive.
Last April, in a direct response to Floatopia — the loosely organized 12,000 person beach party that drew considerable outcry from local officials and environmental activists — the board instated a six-month urgency ordinance banning alcohol on the beach. The ordinance, which was set to expire tomorrow, will now become a permanent law prohibiting alcohol on the beach stretching from campus to the 6800 block of Del Playa Drive.
Alcohol consumption will remain illegal along university owned beaches, as was the policy prior to the outcry surrounding Floatopia.
Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr, who voted in favor of establishing a permanent ban, said it ultimately came down to an issue of safety.
“I think it’s a public safety issue,” Farr said. “It is the public safety concern over alcohol consumption and an ocean right there.”
Much of the discussion focused on the impacts of Floatopia which last year resulted in 13 arrests, two cliff accidents and 33 medical emergencies, most notably alcohol poisoning and near drowning, according to Lt. Brian Olmstead of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol. The event also proved quite costly for the county, which had to reallocate emergency response teams from other cities to ensure the safety of Floatopia participants.
Olmstead said that there has been a decrease in violence and citations on the beach since the then temporary ban was instated last spring.
“We haven’t seen a decrease in usage, but we have seen a decrease in trash and violence,” Olmstead said. “Even though we put in this ordinance, the quality of life has improved.”
Student reactions to the board’s decision were mixed. Isla Vista resident Lars Bennett, a fifth-year psychology major, was displeased with the ruling.
“I think [the board] already had their minds made up beforehand,” Bennett said. “I feel like it’s unnecessary.”
Lawrence Carter, a second-year city college student, acknowledged the role Floatopia played in the decision, but lamented that the student community was not given a chance to mitigate the impacts themselves.
“It’s sad because it’s all in respect to Floatopia,” Carter said. “We need to come together and control the situation. Instead they’re shutting Floatopia down.”
Some students, however, were in favor of the ban. UCSB’s Associated Students Environmental Affairs Board spoke in support of the Board’s decision.
UCSB officials also weighed in at yesterday’s meeting. Associate Dean of Students Debbie Fleming the said ban should be instituted.
“The beaches and waters below Isla Vista are not an appropriate venue for gathering thousands of people who intend to consume alcohol,” Fleming said. “With the severe fiscal crisis at the state, county and local levels, neither the county nor the university can afford to ramp up for what might essentially become another Halloween on the beaches of Isla Vista.”
The ban still allows for those wishing to host events involving alcohol on the beach to obtain an official permit from the county.