Despite the fact that Halloween falls in the middle of the week this year, the “official” time for celebration in Isla Vista will be this weekend. Traditionally, Isla Vista’s Halloween parties have been raucous affairs of legendary status, drawing increasing numbers of out of town visitors every year. However, efforts by County government and law enforcement authorities over the past several years have put tighter controls on the largely student-inhabited population of the community during this special time of the year.
Authorities already have a plan in place for the famed celebration this weekend, including medical, fire, and law enforcement precautions. Janet O’Neil, the public relations spokesperson for Cottage Health Systems, said that Goleta Valley’s emergency room will be quadruple-staffed, with as many as 15 nursing staff personnel on duty, as well as more than the usual number of physicians. They will also have extra beds set up in a special recovery are to accommodate overflow from the influx of extra patients.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department-which plans to have seven extra medical personnel assigned to IV-will have an onsite treatment area at Embarcadero Hall in an effort to reduce the number of patients brought to the Goleta ER. They will also provide a roving team of paramedics to ensure rapid response to any medical situations which may arise.
Sergeant Erik Raney, the Public Information Officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, said that they will have up to 200 law enforcement personnel on the streets, with manpower being drawn from agencies all over the tri-county area. “We will be out in force with uniformed, undercover, and specialized patrols, and there will be zero tolerance for any kind of illegal activity,” he said. “Public intoxication, fighting, urination in public, noise violations:all of that will be enforced to make sure that this unsanctioned party, hosted by residents, doesn’t get out of control, and we have a minimum of sexual assaults and other injuries.”
He continued that minors convicted of alcohol violations will lose their licenses for one year and will be fined from $525-1000, with no chance of license reinstatement within that year. “In the past, [minors] have been able to mitigate [license suspension] with alcohol classes, but not anymore.” Furthermore, it will be easier for police to issue finable noise violations this year, as the county has changed noise and festival violations to administrative, rather than ordinance penalties. Raney stated that this new change in county policy expands the criteria for what constitutes a loud party, but there are no criminal repercussions.
Last year, law enforcement officers performed 351 arrests and issued 393 criminal citations, mostly to out of town partiers. This year, the Sheriff’s Department will close roads-from Trigo Road south-in order to prevent all vehicle access to Sabado Tarde and Del Playa Roads to both residents and non-residents. The closures will be in effect during evening and nighttime hours on Friday October 26th, Saturday October 27th and Wednesday October 31st. Public parking in the City of Goleta will be limited as well, and many businesses will close their parking lots.