The Isla Vista Community Services District committee in charge of planning Halloween 2021 is continuing its annual tradition of local programming in downtown Isla Vista, hoping to provide an alternative to partying, during their Sept. 28 meeting.
The committee — composed of Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) Directors Spencer Brandt, Catherine Flaherty and Ethan Bertrand — said that in recent years, there has been an “imbalance between the public safety response and the needs of the community.”
For the past few years, Isla Vista has been largely shut down during Halloween weekends due to increased police presence and the festival ordinance, which prohibits amplified music between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m.
“For Halloween, when talking about the imbalance, in the dorms freshman year in our residence halls, we were encouraged not to enter I.V. at all, and it’s almost made to seem like immediately we will be confronted by law enforcement,” Flaherty said during the meeting. “I was very surprised by that, and that is a culture we are trying to change.”
In a statement to the Nexus, Bertrand agreed with Flaherty’s analysis, adding that it’s impractical to expect I.V. residents to stay home for Halloween and that providing safe alternatives to partying is a good way to make sure people still enjoy the holiday.
“For many years, much more attention has been given to containing Halloween, as opposed to creating a safe and fun Halloween experience that Isla Vista residents can be proud of. The focus on containment has centered around law enforcement, parking restrictions, fencing and other efforts. Many Isla Vista residents are unsatisfied with this approach,” Bertrand said.
“While UCSB has done a lot to provide programs for students to enjoy Halloween on campus, there is a lack of options for residents who want to safely celebrate Halloween within Isla Vista. We can’t just tell people to stay home or go to campus during Halloween; we have to provide people with safe and fun options to enjoy Halloween at night in Isla Vista,” he continued.
Historically, IVCSD has provided alternative programming on Halloween. Isla Vista residents may remember the “Haunt the Loop” event from 2019 or the virtual “Halloween at Home” event from 2020. This year, IVCSD is hoping to put on pop-up events in downtown I.V. near businesses like the Isla Vista Food Cooperative — away from residential areas — for community members to enjoy.
According to Bertrand, the committee is looking to partner with local businesses to put on pop-up events such as a costume contest, photo booths and giveaways. IVCSD has identified the Isla Vista Food Co-op as a potential pop-up location for their Halloween programming.
In a unanimous vote, IVCSD decided to pursue next steps for Halloween programming by developing a budget and facility-use agreement for future board approval, creating a public outreach campaign and more.
A version of this article appeared on p. 8 of the Sept. 30, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus.