An editorial in the April 15 Los Angeles Times underlined that the U.S.’s 55-year-old embargo against Cuba has failed to achieve its objective of forcing the Castro regime from power. What were the objectives of Santa Barbara County’s embargo against Floatopia, the rite of spring celebration that used to be held beachside in Isla Vista, but which in 2010 was forced up to the town’s oceanfront street, Del Playa Drive, and renamed Deltopia on social media? Supposedly the move was made necessary because of all the trash and human waste the crowds created on the beach in 2009.
But most reports say there has been no less trash or human waste along Del Playa than happened on the beach. Still, Deltopia went fairly well for a couple of years. Even last year’s event was marred only by a collapsed balcony that probably was holding too many revelers. That is, until Sunday morning when a young woman’s body was found on the beach, probably after she slipped off the edge of the bluff while seeking a place to urinate. You see, no porta-potties were deployed along the street, although authorities were predicting 20,000-25,000 people would be strolling Del Playa that Saturday and into the night.
Again this year, no porta-potties. Planners probably view these as too enabling. And no live bands are permitted, so there’s no front-yard parties as there are on most weekends. But there were 100 cops in riot gear, six 1984-ish surveillance cameras on 25-foot poles recording everyone’s every move, and, I’m told, a helicopter circling overhead, probably with one of those ultra-intrusive search lights scouring the crowd. Shades of the movie Blade Runner.
And the response by Isla Vista’s overseers to the “riot” that occurred following a confrontation between a partier and a policeman? UCSB’s chancellor declared, while pounding his chest, that we’re going “to make a fundamental change in the culture of Isla Vista.” And Isla Vista’s representative on the County Board of Supervisors implied there will be no more so-called “unsanctioned events” until some entity steps up to be the sponsor. So what entity was it that closed the beach for the weekend, called in the surveillance cameras, ordered in 100 police, the helicopter, etc.? Clearly some entities were active, beginning with whoever declared such events “unsanctioned.”
Isla Vistans pay taxes, through their rents and through sales-taxed purchases. What does that money buy? Perhaps a few porta-potties and trash bins when tens of thousands of people are coming out to celebrate spring? Or fall at Halloween?
An activist for over 30 years in Isla Vista, Carmen Lodise is the author of Isla Vista: A Citizen’s History (2008). He has a home in a fishing village in Mexico but follows Isla Vista events closely.