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Police Arrest 70 in Isla Vista

Rain and UC Santa Barbara's effort to tone down the revelry don't deter 50,000 partygoers.

November 02, 2003|Marisa Lagos | Times Staff Writer

Halloween revelry that attracts thousands to UC Santa Barbara's Isla Vista neighborhood each year ended early Saturday with officers arresting about 70 people, issuing a 100 citations and treating many for injuries, mostly alcohol-related.

The early-evening downpours and a university campaign declaring the parties "over" -- in e-mails and letters sent out to students at the university and other California college campuses -- did not keep people away from the 1-square-mile town's crowded streets and house parties.

Deputies estimated that about 50,000 young adults and youths, many of them costumed and many visiting friends in town, pushed their way through the crowd on Del Playa Drive, which borders the ocean and is the university's party hub.

The revelers ranged from men dressed as inmates in orange jumpsuits to women dressed in practically nothing -- all of them walking in and out of house parties, complete with kegs, that dotted the streets.

Most of the arrests were for public intoxication or fighting, said Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Cmdr. Geoff Banks. Citations ranged from minors in possession of alcohol to public urination.

Numerous students were hospitalized for alcohol-related symptoms, crowding the Goleta Valley Hospital emergency room. A man who fell about 30 feet off a cliff was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, deputies said. His injures were minor, Banks said on Saturday.

"It was crazy ... but it was a festive mode," said Banks, adding that the arrest statistics were lower than expected. "We could have made several [more citations] and arrests, but the deputies couldn't take the time because the crowds were so rowdy."

Halloween activities in Isla Vista, also known as I.V., have concerned authorities since the early 1990s, when the raucous celebrations started attracting more and more people from out of town.

The town of about 20,000, just west of the university, is populated mostly by students. For the Halloween festivities, the population more than doubles.

Since creation of a "no tolerance" policy in 1993, deputies have worked with the university to ensure adequate control on Halloween. The university sends out letters to various college campuses discouraging visitors, and hosts town hall meetings in the weeks prior to the holiday. This year, UCSB sent out an e-mail message warning students of the repercussions if school policy or laws were broken.

After a large increase last year in the size of the crowd, authorities decided to double the number of deputies on duty this year.

"Everything was fine, but if it had gotten out of control it would have been difficult to handle," Sheriff's Lt. Tom McKinny said.

During the week of Halloween, amplified music in Isla Vista is banned after 6 p.m. And university-owned housing is closed to nonresidents around the holiday. This year, there were barricades and deputies on horseback, and there were more than twice as many officers as in 2002. Floodlights illuminated the area.

The National Weather Service originally forecast rain throughout the evening, but heavy downpours ended about 7 p.m., when clouds lifted for a cool and clear night.About 12:30 a.m., university Chancellor Henry Yang and his wife, Dilling, made their usual rounds. Smiling and shaking hands with students, the two seemed relaxed and happy as the carnival swirled around them.

"Oh, yes, we feel safe," said Chancellor Yang.

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