The Santa Barbara County Parks Dept. announced yesterday that all beach access points from Isla Vista and campus will be blockaded this weekend to ward off a potential reappearance of Floatopia.
[media-credit name=”Daily Nexus File Photo” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]According to the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, Isla Vista will see increased law enforcement presence over the weekend in an effort to protect local beaches from would-be partygoers. In 2009, pollution from the festivities infuriated local environmentalists and cost the county over $20,000 to control and clean up.
IVFP Lt. Ray Vuillemainroy said I.V. will see a heavier law enforcement presence over the weekend.
“It was very effective in deterring the crowds [last year] and we hope it will be the same this year,” Vuillemainroy said. “There will be strict enforcement of all applicable laws during the weekend.”
Up until 2008, the annual beach party — informally organized through word of mouth — saw around a thousand students turn up on the beach below Del Playa during the first weekend of Spring Quarter. But in 2009, largely due to social networking sites, the event had close to 12,000 participants from around the nation and provoked 33 hospitalizations, 78 citations for alcohol-related offenses and 13 arrests that day.
Citing concerns for local environmental damage, unnecessary demands on law enforcement and the safety of event-goers, county officials instituted an ordinance last year that prevented drinking on county beaches and barricaded access to the beach during the expected time for Floatopia. However, the resulting festivities that shifted to the streets and residences of Isla Vista (dubbed “DP-Topia” by attendees) last year still led to 12 hospitalizations, 139 citations and 31 arrests.
Santa Barbara County Interim Director of Parks Thomas D. Fayram said county officials decided to bar access to the beach this weekend because the event lacked the organization necessary to prevent further pollution.
“Usually there is a sponsor for this type of large event that provides the necessary sanitation and clean up services,” Fayram said. “They will apply for a permit through the county and take additional steps to regulate the event, but there is not anyone in charge of Floatopia doing so.”
However, several individuals have formed a Facebook group promoting this year’s Floatopia.
UCSB Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Dr. Michael D. Young said the creators of the events are not members of the university.
“Some individuals, who are not even students, are trying to make it happen again,” Young said. “They think it would be cool to trash our beaches.”
Young said the group responsible for the webpage — largely composed of out-of-towners — is not taking the event’s potential wide-spread environmental consequences into account.
“This is not just a matter of the county being a bunch of hardnoses and not wanting students to have a good time,” Young said. “There was a lot of environmental damage, the cliffs were degraded, there were human excrements in the water and there were 30 plus water rescues.”
Fayram said SBCPD is monitoring the Facebook group sponsoring this year’s festivity to stay abreast of revelers’ plans.
“We are tracking the Facebook page that has been set up for the event and that is going to guide or actions more or less unless something else comes up that provides us with information otherwise,” Fayram said.
Despite official’s concerns, fourth-year French major Sam Smith said the potential risks do not justify the county’s decision to prohibit public access.
“I think it is unnecessary that they would close the beach whether or not Floatopia happens,” Smith said.