Despite barricades restricting all beach access, roughly 8,000 revelers celebrated Floatopia on the streets of Isla Vista.
Deputies made 31 arrests and issued 139 citations throughout the day, a sharp rise from last year’s tallies. Medical personnel also transported 12 people to local hospitals, mostly for alcohol-related emergencies.
County law enforcement blocked access to beaches from Saturday morning until approximately 7:30 p.m. and deployed a total of 59 deputies and officers to patrol the town. The beach was monitored by a helicopter and a patrol boat. According to I.V. Foot Patrol Lt. Brian Olmstead, there were no attempts to breach the barricades or scale the cliffs.
“I was very happy to see everyone respected the beach closures,” Olmstead said. “We had no problems.”
Last year’s Floatopia — which saw 12,000 partygoers swarm I.V.’s beach — resulted in 13 arrests, 78 citations for alcohol-related offenses and 33 hospitalizations.
Mark Bello, a third-year political science major, said the beach closures frustrated him, but noted that he and his friends continued to celebrate on land.
“At one point, I’m upset [about the closures],” he said. “But, on another point, you can’t have 12,000 kids drinking on the fucking ocean.”
Zach Finn, a second-year political science major and Rockstar Energy Drink “ambassador” to UCSB and I.V., said the huge increase in police presence was unwarranted.
“It’s total B.S.,” he said. “Our county is spending so much money. There are about five cops per access. I see people getting tickets everywhere and I don’t think that’s properly serving. …There are guys waiting down there [at the accesses] wanting to arrest you.”
According to Olmstead, a complete cost assessment should be completed within two weeks time. He said that any cost increase from Floatopia 2009 would be due to inadequate staffing at last year’s event.
“We have more personnel this time. … Last year, we should have had more staff, but it was reactionary to the event,” he said.
Olmstead noted a visible increase in out-of-towners and said that the IVFP cited a number of non-locals.
Bola Oduwole, a senior at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland who plans to attend DePaul University in Chicago next year, traveled from the San Francisco Bay Area for the event. He said he planned to come down nearly a month earlier and had not heard news of the accesses being shut down prior to his arrival.
“I love Santa Barbara, I should have come here before,” Oduwole said. “If I knew Santa Barbara was like this, I would have applied.”
The successful shutdown of Saturday’s event has prompted a number of students to discuss the future of Floatopia.
“There’s talk of Flashtopia,” Finn said. “No date, no location. That’s the way Floatopia is supposed to be — local and spur of the moment.”
However, Olmstead said county officials have the authority to close beach accesses again should future Floatopia plans develop.
“It is our duty to protect life and property,” he said. “The beach will be shut down if the event is re-scheduled. If they do it on another weekend, we have to re-evaluate and re-staff it.”