Floatopia — Isla Vista’s infamous beer-soaked beach party — is due to take place on April 10 after high tide warnings prompted event planners to push back the date from April 3.
Last year’s event saw 12,000 party-goers hit the beach, resulting in nearly 70 alcohol citations and 13 arrests, as well as environmental damage from trash, abandoned floats and urine in the ocean. An estimated $20,000 was spent patrolling the event. In response to last year’s Floatopia, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors banned drinking on I.V. beaches.
Isla Vista Foot Patrol Sgt. Eric Raney said he is concerned about the possibility of another event of this magnitude.
“Because this is a Facebook quality event, people across the country can see it and decide if they want to come,” Raney said. “I expect the same draw as last year, but the bottom line this year is that this is an illegal event and will not be allowed in its present format.”
The Board of Supervisors banned consumption of alcohol on the beach from the 6500 to 6800 block of Del Playa and on all beach accesses last May as a result of Floatopia 2009 and amid talk of a second Floatopia that year. Because IVFP has had time to prepare for the size of this year’s event, Raney noted that officers will be stricter in enforcing codes than in the past.
“The sheriff’s department will be staffing to prepare for an event the size of last year and those who come down to the beach to party will face a citation or arrest or combination of the two,” he said.
Chris Henson, chief of staff for Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr, said that the County of Santa Barbara has provided the planners of Floatopia with the proper guidelines for the event.
“The County of Santa Barbara has been proactive in reaching out to those individuals who want to have this event and provide them with a permit,” Henson said.
As of press time, a permit legalizing Floatopia had not been acquired.
“We want to stress that Isla Vista is not being picked on,” Henson said. “The permit process is in place so that there is a sponsor to provide restrooms, public safety, security and trash cleanup, just like anywhere in the county.”
A number of groups for cleanup crews have formed on Facebook, asking students to bring trash bags, leave alcohol at home and only bring floats that can be carried back up the stairs of the beach.
“We all live within a mile of the beach so if everyone is responsible and leaves their trash at home, maybe we can have a fun time at Floatopia,” Brooke Terry, a fourth-year English major said.
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Young, however, called Floatopia “willfull destruction” and said he doubts that plans for cleanup will be followed through.
“It’s fiction that there’s going to be cleanup,” he said. “I don’t understand how people who claim to care for the environment can willfully do this.”
According to fourth-year environmental studies major Chloe Kirk, the impact of last year’s Floatopia makes her wary of another similar event.
“The damage left behind by an event like Floatopia goes much farther than just a beach cleanup and the risks associated with the massive amount of drunk people. [It] is not really worth it,” she said.
According to Henson, county officials hope that attendees of Floatopia 2010 will behave responsibly.
“The ultimate goal is for everyone to go home safe. I just hope that people will be as responsible as possible and look out for their friends and pick up after themselves,” he said.