The External Vice President for Local Affairs Office hosted the first-ever informational Deltopia Town Hall on March 6 with panelists from the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, the University of California Police Department, Gauchos for Recovery and the Police Accountability Board. The meeting discussed ordinances, plans for Deltopia and community policing.

Representatives from county and University entities answered questions on Deltopia 2024 at the first-ever Deltopia Town Hall. Lizzy Rager / Daily Nexus

Deltopia is the annual unsanctioned street festival on the first Saturday of spring quarter.

The Town Hall follows a new precedent for the five-year-old Restorative Justice (RJ) Program — no citations issued from 6 a.m. on Saturday, April 6 to 6 a.m. on Sunday, April  7, the peak of Deltopia, will qualify for the program. The RJ Program is a community-oriented strategy in which residents of Isla Vista can waive nonviolent misdemeanor citations by taking a Restorative Justice class and working four hours of community service. 

The suspension was not endorsed by her office, External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) and fourth-year psychological & brain sciences major Osaze Osayande said in an interview with the Nexus.

“I don’t agree with it. And that’s something I’ve been pretty vocal about. I haven’t agreed with it since it was first brought up and I don’t agree with it now. I really wanted this town hall to be an opportunity for students to voice those concerns,” Osayande said.

The I.V. Foot Patrol (IVFP) let the EVPLA office know of its decision after three to four months of talks between them, according to IVFP Lieutenant Garrett TeSlaa. Osayande said that a week before they were notified of the RJ Program suspension, the IVFP said they were only “considering it.” 

Approximately 40 community members attended the town hall held in Embarcadero Hall. Panelists included TeSlaa, UC Police Department (UCPD) Chief of Police Alex Yao and Field Operations Lieutenant Matt Bly, UC Santa Barbara Alcohol & Drug Program (ADP) Director Jacqueline Kurta and UCSB Sociology professor and Police Accountability Board (PAB) Chair Geoffrey Raymond. Political science and Chicana and Chicano studies lecturer and Associated Students (A.S.) Executive Director Marisela Márquez moderated the event. 

Questions were pulled from responses to an online form issued through the EVPLA Instagram or asked directly at the hall. 

When asked about community-centered safety initiatives during Deltopia, Kurta answered that UCSB Life of the Party peers will be available for emergency support over the weekend and highlighted the ADP’s informational Overdose Prevention Week leading up to the festival. Raymond said after Deltopia, there will be an open PAB meeting for those expressing concerns or complaints about the police department. 

IVFP is the lead emergency services agency for the planning and development of Deltopia, TeSlaa said. They’ve partnered with UCPD, Santa Barbara County’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) for those emergency services, along with the Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD), to educate locals about bluff safety, new festival ordinances and encourage “keeping it local.”

“We make sure that all of those things are prepared and ready to go for what we anticipate to be the medical emergency that Deltopia is,” TeSlaa said. 

A.S. Program Board is holding its annual “The Warm Up” concert the night of April 6 at the UCSB Events Center, with UCPD serving as security, Bly said. Additionally, Community Service Officers will be stationed at the event and around I.V. during Deltopia to provide safety escorts and other services. 

Several attendees raised questions about the decision to suspend the RJ program for Deltopia. One speaker asked if policy changes were related to the fentanyl-overdose death from last year’s Deltopia. 

“I don’t consider the death of a young person to be insignificant in any way, shape or form,” TeSlaa said. “To me, it’s not a small casualty at all. It’s a massive casualty. So yes, we are adjusting in part because of that.”

One attendee asked if the negative effects of suspending the RJ program were worth it, as “efforts made to strengthen ties between law enforcement and this community” would effectively be reversed. 

TeSlaa said the two requirements to be eligible for the RJ program and the type of received citation are to be “compliant” and “cooperative” with the issuing officer.

“Deltopia has become such a dangerous event. It’s such a drain on emergency medical services over the last couple of years, that it’s our position that participation in the event is inherently against the ethos of community, TeSlaa said. “[It] is a minor adjustment to part of our enforcement strategy to help dissuade people from participating.”

UCSB alumna and IVCSD Director Olivia Craig, one of the attendees, disagreed over the suspension of the RJ program. Craig previously condemned last year’s policing in I.V. when the number of citations issued increased by 300%.

“Deltopia is not an event that we’re going to be able to just stop, and taking away resources from UCSB students, I don’t think, is an effective method of discouraging the community from participating,” Craig said.

TeSlaa clarified that the RJ program suspension will only be for 24 hours and does not apply to the Friday night before the daylight festival.

“Last year was 100% increase in medical calls. We saw a 50% increase in the crowd size. 153% increase in hospitalizations over the year to year from 2022 to 2023. We treated 37 people at the triage tent and we had the overdose death earlier,” TeSlaa said.

Craig asked if the I.V. community can trust outsourced police forces from UCPD and Montecito to act appropriately and ethically, to which Yao answered that all UC officers operate under the same community safety plan from the UC Office of the President. 

TeSlaa said most officers will be Santa Barbara County sheriff deputies who’ve had experience in I.V., and that Teslaa briefs officers deployed to the college town on its culture and local laws “daily.” Officers sourced from the Santa Maria Police Department will be working in an “assistance capacity,” not an enforcement capacity, taking on roles such as blocking streets off. 

One attendee questioned if these preventative measures are “infantilizing” college students and preventing them from having learning opportunities. Kurta responded that, as the ADP director and founder of Gauchos for Recovery, she wants to educate the community and equip them to make their own choices. 

“We don’t want to look back and feel we could have done something to prevent those things from happening. We want to treat people as adults and educate them and they will make their choices,” Kurta answered. “From my perspective, not having taken the appropriate steps doesn’t sit right with me.”

Last year, Gauchos for Recovery issued over 100 supplies of Narcan, a nasal spray to halt active overdose, Kurta said in a Nexus interview. 

An attendee asked TeSlaa if the policing on Deltopia will match the level of lockdown surrounding Halloween weekend in the future.

“I think it already is. I think that what we saw this year [2023] with Deltopia is the equivalent of what would’ve been a moderate to large-size Halloween 10 years ago. As a result of that, we are responding with increased presence.”

The Nexus will continue to report on this topic as more information becomes available.


Lizzy Rager
Lizzy Rager (she/her) is the Assistant News Editor for the 2024-25 school year. She can be reached at