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UC Santa Barbara Braces for Massive Party

October 31, 2003|William Overend | Times Staff Writer

SANTA BARBARA — It's Halloween at UC Santa Barbara and everything is normal. The warnings have all been issued. The police will be out in force. And maybe it will even rain.

Still officials are expecting a crowd of 30,000 revelers tonight on the main party street of Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista.

Sheriff's Department Cmdr. Geoff Banks said rain might thin the ranks of the hard-drinking crowd that traditionally gathers along the ocean-side street.

The Sheriff's Department has assembled more than 100 officers and has added a mounted horse patrol to maintain order this year after growing crowds and increasingly wild parties in recent years. In addition, for the first time ever, UC Santa Barbara sent out e-mail warnings to all students saying: "Please read the following flyer and understand when we tell you, 'There is NO party!' "

Carolyn Buford, associate dean of students, said the university is not really out to stop all parties in Isla Vista and actually will be promoting alternative parties on the university campus. The goal, she said, is to protect the students.

"The fact we have student injuries and deaths is really driving this," she said. "We are not out to take away their fun. We just want to make it clear that there are serious repercussions when parties get too wild and drinking gets out of hand."

Even on an average weekend, Isla Vista is a problem for law enforcement. The community of 20,000 people, about half of them UC Santa Barbara students, accounts for 25% of all serious crime in the unincorporated areas of the county and the Sheriff's Department's four contract cities of Carpinteria, Goleta, Solvang and Buellton.

Last Halloween, there were more than 250 arrests, more than twice the number made on other weekends of the year, and the university stressed in its warning to students that conduct that might seem harmless to some students could actually lead to a miserable night and have long-term consequences.

"Law enforcement will not issue warnings for violations observed," said the university e-mail, sent to 20,000 students. "Arrests and booking take between 10-12 hours and sometimes longer. Holding may occur in an outside facility; blankets will not be made available.

"Remember that even after you have endured the initial expense, time and embarrassment of being cuffed and booked, you will still have an arrest record that will follow you around for A LONG TIME," the warning continued. "You will have to explain it to future employers or at any job where a security clearance is required."

As part of the Halloween crackdown, the Sheriff's Department will be enforcing a weekend ban on any bands or loud music coming from apartments after 6 p.m.

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