Deltopia, originally known as Floatopia, is a social event that has taken place in Santa Barbara, California since 2004. Floatopia was originated in 2003 by University of California, Santa Barbara students. In early years attendance usually maxed out with 500–1,000 participants.
Participants consist primarily of college students. The title "Floatopia" describes the main activity the event is known for—floating on rafts and other home-made or store bought floating devices along the coast and partying on the beach. Floatopia has drawn college and highschool students from all over California, although it is patronized largely by students from the Santa Barbara City College and the University of California, Santa Barbara. The title also references the word utopia, the state of ideal perfection. Original Floatopia activities included sand-built beer pong tables and a number of loosely organized 'floating parties,' in which beer kegs were used as central flotation devices for 'flotillas' of underage students who had originally taken to the water in order to avoid being ticketed by (terrestrial) IVFP officers.
Floatopia occurs at the start of spring quarter "along the beach and in the water in the 6500 and 6600 blocks of Del Playa Drive." In 2007, Floatopia attracted just over 300 students, in 2008 it grew to almost 1,000 people, and in 2009 it continued to grow to approximately 12,000. Floatopia 2009 was so popular amongst attendees that plans were made for a Floatopia 2 to occur in May. Furthermore, various college campuses made plans to imitate the event, such as Slotopia, which was planned at California Polytechnic State University. Floatopia also popped up as a major event in San Diego after alcohol was banned on the beaches in 2008. San Diego Floatopia, taking place in Mission Bay, had grown to attract over 10,000 in 2009. Although Floatopia attracts many party goers who enjoy the event, others point out the adverse environmental effects and legal consequences related to minors and alcohol consumption.
The unprecedented attendance at Floatopia, approximately 12,000 people, is likely attributable to Facebook. Facebook includes an application that allows users to create "events" and send out "event invitations" to any number of "friends." Using this feature, the UCSB Excursion Club created an event invitation entitled "Floatopia." This invitation was "open," allowing any other user on Facebook to view the event's details and RSVP. The event ultimately listed 9,675 confirmed guests. As many as 67 results appear when searching for "Floatopia" on Facebook; although many of the groups promote the event, a number of the groups are dedicated to either preventing a sequel or organizing clean-up crews.
Legal citations and accident reports
Throughout Floatopia a number of accident reports and citations were issued. At the event 78 alcohol citations were issued and 13 arrests were made under the charges of drunk in public or disorderly conduct (throwing bottles from the bluffs towards the crowd below). Because of the large number of people concentrated in one area, most of whom were under the influence of alcohol, many injuries occurred. Two party goers were taken to the Cottage Hospital trauma center after falling from the cliffs and 33 people received treatment for head injuries, alcohol poisoning, and lacerations. The police also received a 9-1-1 call reporting a drowning person, but after they dispatched two engines and a truck to Del Playa and interviewed surrounding witnesses, no injury was actually apparent. The police stated a prevalent problem they encountered was attempting to determine which reports they received were valid.
During its peak hours, Floatopia was patrolled by a dozen Foot Patrol officers, Goleta deputies, and officers from the UCSB police department, 4 county fire engines, 2 ambulances, a search and rescue crew, and a helicopter. Lt. Brian Olmstead of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol stated that about 20 county firefighters were assigned to the event. The main problem was that Floatopia required so many officials to be present that it caused a redistribution of safety personnel. Olmstead stated,"this event had an impact on the county as a whole." The increased size of Floatopia caught emergency officials off guard and cost an estimated $20,000 in taxpayer money to patrol.
As attendees dispersed and debris remained, many people began to focus their attention on the aftermath of Floatopia. UCSB's Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Michael D. Young, sent out an email to UCSB students the first Wednesday following Floatopia regarding the event. Young expressed his concerns regarding the number of party goers who likely "urinate[d] in our ocean, destroy[ed] vegetation on the cliffs, drop[ped] broken glass and plastics of all shapes, sizes and varieties onto the sand and into the water, allow[ed] garbage to be strewn along the shoreline down to Santa Barbara and beyond, destroy[ed] habitat for any number of species, and kill[ed] untold numbers of fish and birds." Young concluded the letter asking students to "organize against the event" by discouraging potential participants and encouraging awareness.
In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of Floatopia, the Associated Students Environmental Affairs Board, Surfrider Foundation Isla Vista, and Coastal Fund organized beach cleanups. This is thought to have been relatively unsuccessful considering much of the debris was carried out to sea as a result of the high tide. After seeing the aftermath of Floatopia, Bradley Cardinale, a professor of ecology, revealed that even though he has "traveled all over the world for [his] research…, [he has] only seen dumping like this in third world countries." Cardinale urged students to consider "how much urine went into our coastal zone… You just don't clean that up. Sure we can pick up the beer cans, but the other stuff is out there permanently".
Following Floatopia, a number of college students in the central coast hoped to continue the party 100 miles north, in San Luis Obispo. The event was dubbed "Slotopia." Ryan Magill, a senior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, created the "Slotopia" event on Facebook. The event was to take place at Shell Beach, an unincorporated community in Pismo Beach, on May 2, 2009. Initially, the event was sponsored by Obsession Entertainment. Obsession Entertainment agreed to shuttle students from Cal Poly to Shell Beach throughout the day, as a measure to prevent drinking and driving.
After the large number of injuries and citations and the excessive environmental pollution of Floatopia, the Pismo beach police, university officials, and a campaign led by a Cal Poly student named Ryan Featherson, all combined to stop the event. T Ryan Featherson created his own event on Facebook entitled "Stop Slotopia." Once the event drew the negative attention of the media, Slotopia's sponsor, Obsession Entertainment, pulled out, along with the many deejays that were scheduled to play music that day. Unlike Floatopia, which took place on the beaches of Isla Vista, Slotopia was scheduled to occur at Shell Beach, which is not as heavily populated by college students. Shell Beach is a relatively small location in comparison to the beaches in Isla Vista, which could have potentially magnified the environmental impact and further upset the community of Shell Beach. The efforts to stop Slotopia were ultimately successful and Slotopia was cancelled. On May 2, 2009, Shell Beach had an unusually low number of college attendees for a weekend day. The low attendance is largely attributable to the poor weather.
Despite the controversy over Floatopia, students from UCSB chose to plan a sequel, Floatopia 2. This event was planned to take place May 9, 2009. The event originated on Facebook once again, urging for a bigger and better beach party than the last, quickly drawing approximately 12,000 confirmed guests. The creators of the event sent out 25,000 invitations to Facebook users. In response to the initial Floatopia, authorities took serious steps in order to prevent a sequel. These efforts mainly consisted of a potential emergency ordinance that would ban alcohol on beaches surrounding the seaside enclave. The ordinance would have been effective from the beach stretching to the west from 6885 Del Playa Dr., to the 6500 block of that same street, on the coastal bluffs to the north, and the properties fronting Del Playa Drive in the 6500 to 6800 blocks. The fines for violating this potential ordinance would have been $100 for the first citation, $200 for the second if it occurred within one year of the first, and up to $500 for each additional violation within one year. Floatopia 2 had an estimated cost of $50,000 to fully staff emergency personnel.
Floatopia 2 never occurred, because of the publicized controversial issues, but some UCSB students believe other factors also contributed to its cancellation. Tommy Curran of the Daily Nexus claimed that Mother's Day, bad weather, and the Jesusita Fire were the real reasons Floatopia 2 did not occur.
On Tuesday April 6, 2010, Santa Barbara officials told county supervisors that they planned to barricade beach access points around UC Santa Barbara in an effort to stop Floatopia 2010 scheduled for Saturday April 10. In response, local Isla Vista residents staged "Deltopia" demonstrations to take place on Del Playa street to protest the decision  to close public beach access. Furthermore, several block parties (dubbed as "ragers") took place on April 10 along Del Playa.
Floatopia 2011, scheduled for April 9, 2011, had over 14,248 confirmed guests on the official Facebook fanpage as of March 30, 2011, suggesting that attendance would set a new record. Also on March 30, 2011, Dustin Olson, UC Santa Barbara Chief of Police issued a campus-wide email alert stating that "campus beaches will be closed Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3, 2011 and not accessible to the public or campus community. This beach closure is in response to unsafe and unsanitary conditions that have been associated with this unplanned event in the past."
The Facebook page for the event stressed that participants would be required to enter the beaches empty-handed with the exception of a towel and a float, and leave with the items (towel and float) that they brought in. Participants were also given strict warnings on conduct and the prohibition on alcohol at the event. However, the page also advertised that "ragers" (house parties) would be thrown all day until midnight.
Authorities arrested about 100 attendees of Deltopia 2014. According to police, the party turned violent after some of the approximately 15,000 attendees objected to the arrest of a partygoer by the University of California Santa Barbara Police.
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