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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

New Isla Vista party ordinances attempt to increase student safety

Angel Corzo
A house prepares for a band performance on April 28, 2023 on Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista, California. The new Isla Vista ordinance aims to improve safety for party-goers during these events.

Changes to Isla Vista’s festival ordinance that aim to shake up the party scene and keep students safer went into effect in early February.

Isla Vista’s party culture has been thriving for decades, with events like Deltopia and Halloween weekend drawing in students from all over the country. In the late 1980s, the Halloween weekend gathering would attract thousands of students and feature a large number of arrests and destruction.

In order to address the chaos and safety concerns, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors drafted a festival ordinance in 1993. The ordinance prohibited gatherings from Oct. 26 to Nov. 4 between 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next day. This helped address issues at the time, but the current Board of Supervisors face new challenges as a result.

Recent updates to the ordinance prohibit paid parties and gatherings of more than 250 people in residential areas.

Paid parties are not a new phenomenon, as groups have been known to hold events to raise funds for various causes. Over the past year, paid parties have become much more common.

Poppin’ is an app that allows users to host parties and buy tickets which made its way to Isla Vista in 2022. Tickets are often simple QR codes that users show at the door for entry. Over time, other groups began to capitalize on hosting parties for profit, such as IV Parties.

IV Parties is owned by City College student Jacob Meehan, and since its founding, it has hosted some of the largest parties in Isla Vista. The organization of these parties is completely different from the typical Friday night on Del Playa. Instead of students on DJ sets with speakers, there have been security guards, metal barriers, and even paid talent on some occasions. Meehan did not respond to a request for comment.

These types of paid parties have drawn criticism from residents.

“I’ve never f****d with paid parties,” said Esteban Ortiz, a fourth-year UCSB student.

Regardless, the crowds show that there is a real demand for this type of event.

In a December presentation to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, Isla Vista Foot Patrol Lt. Garrett TeSlaa noted that these large crowds make it hard for emergency responders to get to people who need help.

“This past year, we issued five times as many citations, made three times as many arrests, handled twice the amount of medical calls, doubled our hospitalizations, and unfortunately experienced that overdose death,” said TeSlaa, referring to the emergency response during 2023’s Deltopia.

The sheriff-led task force, created after last year’s Deltopia, worked for months to address these issues. At that time, another safety challenge gained prominence.

The death of City College student Benjamin Schurmer has prompted increased action to address cliff safety in Isla Vista. 

TeSlaa mentions supervisor Laura Capps’ eight-point plan as he addressed the board, urging more action to protect residents of Isla Vista.

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