Internationally famous Venice regularly features more tourists than residents. The same can almost also be said on certain, festive days of not-so-internationally famous Isla Vista.
While I.V. mega-shindigs like Halloween and Deltopia are infamous among locals, the prospect of large-scale, student-dominated jamborees is enticing to many party-oriented young adults from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles. Each year, thousands of out-of-towners, as they’re called, descend on the community on these weekends in search of a wild time.
Despite the seemingly unrestricted atmosphere surrounding I.V.’s most boisterous celebrations, out-of-towners’ presence is routinely considered by residents, the county, and law enforcement alike to be a thorn in the community’s side. Non-locals are responsible for most of the arrests and citations given out on these days and nights, and they played a significant role in 2014’s Deltopia riot. Many students — especially those who live on Del Playa Drive — put up temporary fences around their properties to keep out opportunistic strangers and take turns acting as bouncers.
While rain made last year’s Halloween an anomalously mellow affair, recent Halloweens drew an estimated 10,000-15,000 out-of-towners, according to Isla Vista Foot Patrol Lieutenant Rob Plastino — a significant portion of the estimated 24,000-25,000-person crowds. Halloween 2013, considered standard in terms of misbehavior, saw 225 arrests — 66 percent of which were to out-of-towners (those who weren’t affiliated with either UCSB or SBCC) — and 249 citations — 80 percent of which went to out-of-towners.
“I guess why people go is because it’s a bit unordinary,” said Anthony Fernandez, a recent UCLA graduate who attended Halloween a few years back at a friend’s invitation.
“It’s not what you’d see every day. It’s not just one house party or one strip of bars — it’s the entire neighborhood that’s pretty much a party. So it’s kind of appealing for an out-of-towner — from somewhere where not too much is happening — to go and see this and kind of take part in it all.”
Out-of-towners typically come in two flavors, UCSB third-year Rachel Enders told me: residents’ invitees and unbidden strangers without any connection to Isla Vista. While students’ opinions of the former vary considerably, most agree that the latter crowd is particularly troublesome. Despite often sharing students’ age range and levels of enthusiasm, non-locals’ lack of familiarity with the nuanced I.V. milieu makes them stick out like a sore thumb, perhaps most commonly illustrated by the near-clichéd question, “Where’s the DP?”
“I feel like people from out of town, they just expect too much, so they come with a different mentality,” said Gissel Castaño, a UCSB fourth-year student.
“You can definitely see who’s an out-of-towner because they are very disrespectful,” said Fari Hadian, also a UCSB fourth year. “You can tell the mentality’s like, ‘Oh, this isn’t really my home; I’m just going to do whatever I want.’ They come down for the best party of their life, regardless of any other repercussions.”
“You kind of have to find your clique and kind of stick with it,” said Fernandez. Out-of-towners’ problems, he said, likely occur “because they don’t know anybody in a place where I feel like you really need to know somebody to have a good time.”
In anticipation of the flood of non-locals, authorities and UCSB employ a variety of deterrents. Fences are erected around university apartments as well as along the median strip of El Colegio Road, DUI checkpoints are set up, parking restrictions are put into place in neighboring parts of Goleta, and college students throughout the South Coast receive letters from their institutions warning them of the possible consequences of attending.
Despite the power and resources of law enforcement, the county, and the university, however, students and residents tend to agree that they themselves have the greatest ability to stem the tide of out-of-towners by simply not inviting friends, choosing to throw smaller parties, or rescheduling costumed festivities for the weekends before or after. In the wake of an especially tumultuous 2014 as well as a renewed effort by UCSB to tame I.V. culture, students took a more proactive approach this time around, with many opting simply to go home or attend in droves UCSB’s Delirium concert, headlined by Snoop Dogg.
While out-of-towners’ presence in I.V. won’t disappear anytime soon, many are discovering that the collaborative “keep it local” mentality increasingly permeating the community could be the solution everyone’s been looking for.