It’s been 11 years since Halloween last fell on a Saturday, and all involved - from authorities to partyers - expect debauchery of colossal proportions in Isla Vista. For decades now, the holiday has been a logistical nightmare for authorities, who are upping preventative measures of the past in attempt to tame the ruinous ruckus that ensues yearly. But I.V. residents, the police, and the university have variously, in the past, supported Halloween approaches that clashed - an ongoing problem that the Associated Students of UCSB (AS), beginning this year, aims to eliminate.
Clayton Carlson, UCSB Associated Students external vice president, and the AS staff have been active in educating the UCSB community in order to make Halloween flow smoothly. He said they seek to reverse the failure to communicate, and resulting ignorance, that typically begins before Halloween and continues into November’s post-holiday controversy. To this end, the AS has created and promoted via email a “Halloween ‘09 at UCSB: Keep It Safe” Web site. It outlines what they describe as “numerous changes from last year,” and encourages the UCSB community to “get the facts.” Although, according to Carlson, “When it comes down to it, there’s not a ton of differences between last year and this year. The approach is different.”
One of the main headaches for authorities is parking. Roads into Isla Vista will be blockaded starting at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, October 30, an hour earlier than last year. If the roads leading in get too congested, drivers will be sent away unless they provide a document that proves residency - a lease agreement or utilities bill, for example. One controversial change is the increase in campus parking fees, which are $25 - up $10 from last year. In light of budget cuts, “Chancellor Yang is not subsidizing Halloween this year,” Carlson said. “Students are basically paying to print and ship the permit. It’s an ongoing conversation going back and forth to determine who is right.”
The new approach that Carlson describes aims to improve communication between various authoritative sectors. He and his staff sit in on university, Police Department, and any other relevant meetings to “make sure we’re all on the same page and in communication with each other. For example, the university wanted to open parking lots on campus at five or six, but I.V. Foot Patrol (IVFP) wanted cars off the streets at, like, three. We worked to get them communicating with each other so that that wouldn’t cause a problem.”
Associated Students also arranged the town forum in I.V. Theater the week before Halloween, to provide a chance for community members to clear up any Halloween-related confusion, besides sending notices via email and the U.S. Postal Service to SBCC and UCSB students, so that nobody is left in the dark.
Isla Vista Foot Patrol Officer Mark Ward said, “I think it’ll be an exact replica of last year,” when Halloween fell on a Friday. This will be Ward’s 15th Halloween as a member of the IVFP; he said that “in ‘94 it was basically the same but everybody has gotten a lot nicer. People are less likely to want to get into disturbances with us.”
Ward who frequented I.V. Halloweens as a student in the 1970s - and who said his deputy sheriff’s uniform is his all-time favorite Halloween costume - has a much more positive view of Halloweens of recent years than current members of Associated Students have. “In the ‘70s, everybody wanted to fight everybody - you were in a near riot state all the time.” Ward’s impression of last year is that “it wasn’t that bad : Only two people fell off the cliff.” (Before becoming a law enforcement officer, Ward was locally famous for broadcasting comedic, irreverent narrations of Santa Barbara’s annual Fiesta parade.)
But Halloween remains far from flawless. Carlson predicted that, as in previous years, this weekend “will be a big money drain for the county … [S]treets will be crowded by cars and people : [T]here will be no control and it will be a free-for-all with police chasing people around.”
AS hopes that encouraging local families to enjoy I.V.’s festive atmosphere, including Halloween-themed lights and banners on Pardall Road, and discouraging I.V. residents from hosting swarms of “out-of-towners who don’t respect Isla Vista,” will help to simplify and clean up the event.
Efforts to get some 50,000 Halloween-goers, 250 officers from all over Santa Barbara County, and the university to collaborate rather than clash is a long-term aspiration that begins this weekend. For now, know the laws, avoid the cliffs, and have a happy Halloween!