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County outlaws alcohol on Isla Vista beaches

Will Mullen and Will Mullen

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Alcohol is now permanently banned from Isla Vista’s beaches and three bluff-top parks, the county Board of Supervisors decided on Nov. 3, replacing the temporary six-month ban enacted as an emergency measure to prevent Floatopia 2.

The county sheriff’s, parks, fire and health department supported the ban unanimously, according to Chris Henson, the county’s 3rd District Chief of Staff, who serves Isla Vista.

It was “primarily a safety and environmental issue,” Henson said. “The concern was born out of Floatopia.”

In April, an estimated 12,000 revelers took to the beach for what Isla Vista Foot Patrol Lt. Brian Olmstead described as a “solely alcohol-driven event.”

Floatopia cost the county about $20,000 in law enforcement and cleanup costs, and had 33 people hospitalized.

“It’s strictly amazing we didn’t have a death,” Olmstead said.

The event’s gigantic crowds and absence of accountable party-throwers made regulation an impossibility, forcing the decision.

If sponsored, scheduled events can be permitted to have alcohol in the 22 parks owned by I.V. Recreation and Parks Department, and are subject to approval by security measures. The possible cost of deputies to work the event is determined on a case-by-case basis.

The open nature of the beach makes it unlikely that any Alcohol is now permanently banned from Isla Vista’s beaches and three bluff-top parks, the county Board of Supervisors decided on Nov. 3, replacing the temporary six-month ban enacted as an emergency measure to prevent Floatopia 2.

The county sheriff’s, parks, fire and health department supported the ban unanimously, according to Chris Henson, the county’s 3rd District Chief of Staff, who serves Isla Vista.

It was “primarily a safety and environmental issue,” Henson said. “The concern was born out of Floatopia.”

In April, an estimated 12,000 revelers took to the beach for what Isla Vista Foot Patrol Lt. Brian Olmstead described as a “solely alcohol-driven event.”

Floatopia cost the county about $20,000 in law enforcement and cleanup costs, and had 33 people hospitalized.

“It’s strictly amazing we didn’t have a death,” Olmstead said.

The event’s gigantic crowds and absence of accountable party-throwers made regulation an impossibility, forcing the decision.

If sponsored, scheduled events can be permitted to have alcohol in the 22 parks owned by I.V. Recreation and Parks Department, and are subject to approval by security measures. The possible cost of deputies to work the event is determined on a case-by-case basis.

The open nature of the beach makes it unlikely that any events involving alcohol will be allowed there.

“It’s a good thing in the end,” said Haley Adams, a 19-year-old Environmental Studies major at City College and an I.V. resident.

She reflects the thoughts of most members of the coastal community, in that losing one party is a small price to pay for keeping the beaches clean and safe.

Terry Hurt, 41, lamented the loss of his ability to “come down to the beach and have a beer and watch the sunset,” but was concerned about the damage to the local wildlife from litter and abandoned rafts.

“Not everybody is a problem,” Hurt said. “But there is a huge amount of idiots in this town. There’s a major doofus factor everywhere.”

Olmstead said that it was unfortunate that the county had to pass the ordinance, but that it’s been an “effective tool to help manage out-of-control crowds.”

There have been fewer fights compared to last year when drinking was still allowed, though there has been an increase in citations issued for alcohol offenses.

Alcohol contributes to the majority of crimes in I.V., Olmstead said. “If everyone drank responsibly, there would be fewer problems.”

Samer Balla, manager of Keg N’ Bottle in I.V., is concerned about losing business and would like to see Floatopia and other events held in a controlled environment. Even though “people are still gonna party,” he said that stopping an event that generates so much sales revenue is bad for the economy.

Despite Balla’s concerns, most of the community supports the restriction.

Olmstead said he’s “happy to see a lot of students recognize the issues.”

“If we’re not going to take care of the beach, we don’t deserve to have it,” said Carissa Hayes, a 19-year-old UCSB student, while collecting shells on the now tranquil beach below Del Playa Drive.

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County outlaws alcohol on Isla Vista beaches