Although the beach was closed through- out the weekend to prevent Floatopia, Isla Vista didn’t stay dry Saturday.Undaunted by the second consecutive weekend of beach closures, between eight and ten thousand people crowded the streets Saturday for a land-locked Floatopia. Deputies issued 88 citations and made 27 arrests throughout the day, compared to last year’s 139 citations and 31 arrests.
According to Isla Vista Foot Patrol Lt. Ray Vuillemainroy, the blockades effec- tively deterred people from taking the party to the beach.
“It was very busy; we had very large crowds — between eight to ten thou- sand people with a lot of energy coming from the students,” Vuillemainroy said. “However, most were respectful and com- plied with the beach closures. The mood in general seemed positive amongst par- tygoers.”
Nearly 12,000 participants attended Floatopia 2009, resulting in widespread environmental damage and costing the county about $20,000 to control and clean up after. In order to avoid similar pollu- tion, county officials passed an ordinance last year that banned drinking on county beaches and also began monitoring social networking for information about future events. The Santa Barbara County Parks Dept. enforced blockades for the last two weekends as a reaction to Facebook notices of a Floatopia reappearance. According to Vuillemainroy, the IVFP brought in additional officers to assist with the closures.
“I had between 25 to 30 officers on the street on patrol at one time throughout the day,” Vuillemainroy said. “Basically, I worked with existing schedules throughout the county to avoid overtime costs as much as possible.”
Despite the increased police presence, third-year biopsychology major Sam Fdaee said officers were amicable toward partygoers.
“The cops were actually really friendly,” Fdaee said. “They came and talked to us in the morning and told us to have fun, do what you want but just do not go on the beach.” Fdaee said “Landtopia” is an acceptable replacement for its coastal predecessor.
“I think if they were able to have a Floatopia, that would be better than Deltopia,” Fdaee said. “If they cannot, then I think keeping the Deltopia tradition alive is a good thing to continue.”
However, according to UCSB’s Associated Students External Vice President of Local Affairs Cori Lantz, a fourth-year political science major, the county’s enforcement is not an effec- tive long-term solution for preventing Floatopia and could be just as costly.
“From my perspective, I do not think shutting down the beach is the best option,” Lantz said. “In previous years it has cost the county $20,000 to enforce shutting down the beach for a day.”
Lantz said local authorities and stu- dents need to improve communication channels in order to explore better alter- natives to future beach closures.