The attempt to limit Deltopia to Isla Vista residents has created a much smaller event in recent years, pushing into distant memory spectacles like the one above of a curb-to-curb mass of people partying day and night. | Credit: Mike Eliason / S.B. County Fire Dept.

If it’s April, it must be time for Deltopia — the spring break holiday at UC Santa Barbara that devolved into escalating arrests, people falling off Isla Vista cliffs, and a 2014 riot. As a result, the university and county law enforcement cracked down on out-of-towners attending the street party, parking restrictions for several miles around the school, and closure of the county beaches. Santa Barbara County announced Wednesday that the beaches will close again April 1-2.

The restrictions, especially the attempt to limit the party to Isla Vista residents, created a much smaller event in recent years, pushing into distant memory the spectacle of a curb-to-curb mass of people who partied day and night during the first weekend of spring break. 

The original celebration was an impromptu float-a-thon in 2004 that grew ever-larger and messier over the years, and the combination of inflatable floaties and alcohol resulted in too many floaters of human poo in the water and on the beaches for the county to countenance.

The party is back this year, however, with classes again in-person after a two-year COVID hiatus, and the emphasis again is on Keep It Safe, Keep It Local, said Spencer Brandt, president of the I.V. Community Services District. During the day, the district will hold a Spring Festival in the parks of bands and dance parties for residents only. Out-of-town guests, and their cars, are banned in I.V. and on campus, according to Brandt. The university will again open a skating rink at the rec center, and Associated Students will bring Flo Milli, Pierre Bourne, and a guest deejay for an evening concert on Saturday, April 2 — both sets of events for UCSB students only. COVID restrictions will be enforced.

The six-foot-tall portable fencing that the university had put up along UCSB dorms and El Colegio road in the past will not be there this year. “We’re excited about this because it’s a big recognition of the work we’ve done to make it safer,” Brandt said. The fences had created the feeling of a city under siege, with residents inside and law enforcement along the perimeter.

As before, however, officers from the UC Police Department and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office will be on patrol, reinforced by officers from regional agencies, Brandt said, noting that he and other CSD members have been knocking on doors to let residents know about the coming weekend.

“The big thing people resonate with and understand is that the event had gotten out of control,” said Brandt. “What I’m hearing is that they want to preserve the fun for future generations.”

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