Del Playa Drive was surprisingly quiet this Halloween weekend, with festivities drawing significantly smaller crowds and resulting in fewer misdemeanor arrests and medical evacuations compared to previous years.
According to a press release from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (SBSO), crowds on the streets in I.V. numbered approximately 500 people, largely UCSB students and other local residents, compared to several thousand in 2014 and 12,000 to 15,000 in 2013, a large portion of which were out-of-towners.
SBSO reports an estimated 28 misdemeanor arrests were made on Friday and Saturday compared to the 40 made in 2014 and 200 over a three-day period in 2013. There were seven medical transports, also significantly lower than in previous years, according to the SBSO.
SBSO attributed the quiet weekend to alternative, campus-based events, which drew crowds away from house parties and limited Halloween festivities to UCSB students. The Associated Students Program Board drew many students off the streets of I.V. and into the Thunderdome with musical performances by Fitz and the Tantrums on Friday and Snoop Dogg on Saturday.
SBSO Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover said the Sherriff’s Office “credits the students” for the decrease in visitors from out of town coming to I.V. to celebrate Halloween.
“[The] community has been through a lot, and the students no longer wanted to risk inviting out-of-towners,” Hoover said. “We believe the students have a lot of pride in our community and had a huge hand in keeping the event local.”
Hoover also said student organizations like UCIV working alongside law enforcement contributed to the relative quietness of Halloween this year.
“There’s nothing like students helping enforce the rules, and they were passing out safety tips and passing out water,” Hoover said. “They were reminding students to move their cars and keep in accordance with the ordinance. It was really great working with students this weekend.”
A.S. Public Safety Commission Chair and second-year global studies and political science double-major Dwayne Mosbey said the relationship between students and police officers was more positive than in previous years.
“You could walk down the street and see officers playing Frisbee with some of the people walking about,” Mosbey said. “There was a record low number of [citations] handed out this year.”
Mosbey also said the two concerts hosted by A.S. Program Board were “incredibly effective” at preventing crowds in I.V.
“The only time I saw traffic while walking I.V. was students going to the concerts,” Mosbey said. “I applaud and am so appreciative of Program Board for putting on such a great program this year with artists that the students just really wanted to hear.”
Mosbey also said the UCIV efforts received “incredibly positive feedback” throughout the weekend.
“Even when our volunteers went to warn people about the noise ordinance, their warnings were received in a very positive manner and they really appreciated what we were doing,” Mosbey said.
A.S. External Vice President for Local Affairs and third-year history of public policy major Paola Dela Cruz said organizations like UCIV help “shift the culture” in I.V. toward community policing.
“These students were giving out warnings about noise ordinances and citations,” Dela Cruz said. “I’m just really glad to have seen Isla Vista safe and local.”
Dela Cruz said community events like Haunt-a-Loop, which invited local children to trick-or-treat on Pardall Road Saturday afternoon and early evening, were “really successful” in making Halloween weekend a more positive and community-based event.
“That event to me signified a shift in culture — of students taking a stance and saying we want to make sure that the families and the children in our community know that they can also trick-or-treat in Isla Vista, that it’s not just a place where students are just going to get drunk,” Dela Cruz said.
Dela Cruz also said I.V. businesses helped collaborate with A.S. to promote a safe Halloween by providing T-shirts and giveaway items for a Scavenger Hunt.
“Our local businesses came together and gave us free stuff and helped us enjoy ourselves,” Dela Cruz said. “It was a collaborative effort and students enjoyed it.”
Fourth-year sociology major Andrea Cisneros said over the past few years the police presence has changed the Halloween culture in I.V.
“The Halloween from my first year was very different from this year,” Cisneros said. “My first year, Halloween was a big deal. There were still some of the same regulations — like in the residence halls we weren’t allowed to have visitors — but there weren’t that many police.”
Cisneros said the alternative events UCSB planned were effective in deterring students from partying on Del Playa Drive.
“Having Snoop Dogg and filling the Thunderdome on the weekend was a great success,” Cisneros said. “I think people took initiative to plan alternative events because they understand that not everyone wants to party this weekend, which was really nice.”
Second-year economics major Lydia Gil said the alternative, student-only events helped decrease the crowds in I.V. and kept out-of-towners from visiting I.V. over the weekend.
“They helped discourage the idea that it gets super crowded here during Halloween because most people were busy with the activities,” Gil said in an email. “I think this will also discourage more people from coming next year.”
Gil said this year the Halloween celebration in I.V. was safer and more enjoyable than years past.
“I thought it was better because there were more options, like having two concerts and the roller skating at the Rec. Cen.,” Gil said in an email. “Also, there wasn’t too many people walking the streets, so it wasn’t that crazy.”
First-year biopsychology major John Nguyen said although the police presence in I.V. over the weekend was alarming at first, he felt safer throughout the weekend with a visible law enforcement present.
“I think students were shocked by the amount of police presence,” Nguyen said. “But I think the ultimate consensus was that the police presence made us feel safer.”