Credit: Santa Barbara County Fire Department
Credit: Santa Barbara County Fire Department

The unsanctioned two-day Spring Break block party known globally as Deltopia kicked off Friday, April 1, with thousands of students congregating to Isla Vista, packing houses and the streets and resulting in the Santa Barbara County Fire Department declaring a Multi-Casualty Incident (MCI), after calls began overwhelming emergency services, reporting broken bones, a traffic collision, and a woman falling out a second-story window. 

During the first day, Friday, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office reported 20 citations and three arrests. By the end of the event on Sunday afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office reported four arrests and 34 people cited over the entire weekend. Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Raquel Zick said Saturday, April 2, saw the biggest increase in activity and reports of injuries, leading the Fire Department to declare the MCI. Daniel Bertucelli, public information officer for the County Fire Department, explained that an MCI allows first responders and hospitals to triage and transport multiple patients to different hospitals more efficiently. The MCI was rescinded around 7:30 p.m. Saturday. 

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Reports included a woman falling from a second-story window on El Nidio Lane off Del Playa Drive on Saturday, resulting in several broken bones. There were also two other reports of falls resulting in broken bones, one from a roof and another from an elevated surface. Despite this, no serious injuries were reported by the Sheriff’s Office. Maria Zate, public information officer for Cottage Hospital, said between the Santa Barbara and Goleta Valley Cottage Emergency Rooms, there were 53 cases of injuries, overdoses, or alcohol poisoning during the Deltopia weekend, with some patients having more than one condition.

Credit: Santa Barbara County Fire Department

The Isla Vista Spring Fest, put on by Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) and California Beer Fest, was thrown to draw some of the crowds away from the Del Playa strip and provide a sanctioned and safe area to enjoy the weekend. Spencer Brandt, board president of IVCSD, said one of the reasons IVCSD was created in 2016 was to invent this safe area for the community to celebrate. The event featured three bands and a deejay, all made up of Isla Vista residents, and Brandt said many students came to enjoy the festivities.

“We knew this was gonna be the year with more attendance,” Brandt said. He went on to say that Deltopia has not been the raucous, wild event that it’s often been painted as for many years. “We’re seeing an event that has become more and more safe,” he said.

Residents of Del Playa witnessed a much bigger Deltopia this year than previous years, most likely due to the recent lift of many COVID-19 restrictions, including mandatory indoor masking and most UC Santa Barbara classes going back to in-person from online. Between 2020 and 2021, when these restrictions were in place, Del Playa saw incredibly mild, if any, Deltopia celebrations, and minimal intervention from emergency services, with about 20 citations total for Deltopia in 2021. 

The end of spring break celebration goes back to the early 2010s during the initial “Floatopia,” which was held on the beaches of Isla Vista. The beaches were subsequently closed off after this event due to overwhelming amounts of trash and human waste going into the ocean, and party-goers moved their celebrations to the streets of Del Playa. Since then, Deltopia has seen more damaging years, most notably in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, a woman died after falling from the beachside bluffs, and in 2014, the crowds, made up of many non-locals who traveled to Santa Barbara to partake in the events, became so unruly and violent that a riot began, and more than 100 people were arrested.

Credit: Santa Barbara County Fire Department

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on April 5 to include information about the Isla Vista Spring Fest and comments from Spencer Brandt and to include updated arrest and citation figures from the Sheriff’s Office.

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