Deltopia 2013 Brings Larger Crowds, More Arrests and Injuries


Photo by Mariah Tiffany

Isla Vista’s fourth Deltopia event took place this past Saturday as up to 18,000 revelers crowded the streets, balconies, and rooftops of the beachside community. The event’s attendance nearly doubled that of Deltopia 2012, and yielded a growing gamut of arrests, citations, and injuries.

Deltopia was first held in 2010, when authorities closed local beaches on several April weekends in an effort to prevent Isla Vista’s infamous Floatopia event from contributing to the environmental degradation of the community’s beaches. Isla Vistans protested the newly-enacted beach barricades by parading down Del Playa Drive replete with inflatable boats and beach apparel. The event has continued to grow in the ensuing years, and according to Sheriff’s Department statistics, its attendance ran from 15,000-18,000 revelers in comparison to last year’s estimate of 8,000-10,000.

The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department and the UC Police Department handed out 71 criminal citations and arrested 23 attendees for crimes including fights, assaults, battery, sexual battery, public intoxication, and theft. Law enforcement took 440 calls for service, as opposed to the 243 calls reported during last year’s Deltopia.

“We anticipated a large crowd and brought in extra staff to deal with enforcement and crowd control,” said Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Kelly Hoover. “We also had representatives from County Fire, CHP, Count Paramedics, and Alcohol Beverage Control there as well.”

All infractions aside, the majority of Deltopia attendees enjoyed a warm April afternoon in a cocktail of camaraderie and debauchery. The weather—cited in a Sheriff’s Department press release as a likely explanation for the increased turnout—reflected the beachy spirit of the holiday with a high of 82 degrees.

Despite the good times, Deltopia was marked by tragedy: 18-year-old California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo student Giselle Esme Ayala was found deceased on the beach west of Campus Point around 8:20 a.m. on Saturday morning. Her family has been notified along with the Cal Poly community, and Santa Barbara police are conducting an investigation into the circumstances of her death.

In another notable instance, a wooden balcony holding several dozen Deltopia participants collapsed from the second floor of an apartment at 6643 Del Playa Drive at approximately 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. The balcony cracked from the weight and slid slowly off of the side of the building as a pile of Deltopia revelers fell to the ground in a jumble. University of California, Santa Barbara third-year environmental studies major Emily Lam, who was standing on the balcony when it fell, related how house residents and others at the scene banded together to mitigate the damage before an ambulance showed up.

“We were standing on it and we heard a snap. You could hear the wood collapsing, and people screaming and running,” described Lam. “Most of the house owners came and started pulling people off [of the pile] and making sure they were okay, putting them in the house and out of the way. Everyone really came together.”

Lam was quick to emphasize, however, that the collapse of the balcony did not correlate specifically to the fact that it took place on Deltopia weekend.

“It was more of a structural issue,” Lam said. “I think that we were partying responsibly and that it was a freak accident. It was pretty standard Isla Vista before the balcony fell.”

Responsible revelries or no, police department statistics do indicate that more and more people are coming to Deltopia each year, and that more people means more citations and injuries.

“We were very concerned with the underage drinking and the number of injuries we saw this year,” explained Hoover. “We are looking at all our options for next year and plan to use social media to get the word out that we will be conducting strict enforcement and we expect people to behave responsibly.”

In light of the increased attendance and continuance of dangers posed by the event, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department plans to work with the County, UCSB, and law enforcement agencies next year to determine ways to make Deltopia safer.


  1. I was born and raised in Santa Barbara and I am now a student at the University of Arizona. It is important the county gets an opinion about Deltopia from a college kid himself, who still cares a lot about the community because I have family and friends living there. The county looks at Deltopia in such a negative way because no one has any positive things to say about it. After reading my opinion on Deltopia, I hope the community can look at this event in a more positive perspective.

    This is an event that college students from all over look forward to. College is supposed to be the best time of your life, where you will make your best friends, have the time of your life, and most importantly make memories you will never forget. Deltopia is one of those events where college kids can do all of those things. If you have students traveling from all different colleges to attend this event, it must be something special.

    Isla Vista is known for two big events and they are Halloween and Deltopia. Each year Deltopia is getting bigger, doubling in size this year, housing 18 thousands college students. The community needs to realize that this event is a blast for students. Just picture yourself back when you were our age and imagine perfect weather and being with all your friends, it does not get much better then that. But having 18 thousand college kids in one area plus alcohol can lead to some problems. This is why the community is anti Deltopia next year.

    The UC Police Department gladly handed out 71 criminal citations, arrested 23 people for multiple reasons, and sadly we had a young women pass away at this event. This is a tragic accident however, with carful planning Deltopia should continue in the future. We work very hard in school, spend hours and hours studying, stressing out over assignments and tests, and this is an event where students can have fun for the weekend. If we want to keep this event going I do think we need to do something to make it safer for students and the community.

    I think this event should only run from 9 in the morning till dusk, then every one should be off the streets, we should also put up tall fences around the cliffs so it is not only safe for college students but also safer for everyone else. I think if we do these few things it will prevent many accidents from happening and make the UC Police Departments job easier. I am just one person trying to make this event safer for all the students that attend. I am trying to make suggestions that will make the community happier because this event brings a lot of money to Isla Vista, making some business double their income on this weekend, as well as a lot of fun for the students. On the flipside, it is equally important for the students to make this even as safe as possible.

  2. My opinion of Deltopia is that of a concerned tax paying citizens. The events of this growing party is not a positive one. It would seem that law enforcement was being kind only handing out 71 or so citations. The irresponsible underage drinking that goes on in isla vista is rediculous. The events like the poor death of this girl that passed is inexcusable and the rediculous amount of people on a balcony that was clearly over croweded and collapsed was sad and again irresponsible. The responsible residents in that home should have never let that many drunken party goes out there. Utube videos of kids jumping off balconies into a jacuzzi?? is that responsible? That was another dearh waiting to happen. Maybe not this time but next time. the drugs and drinking that go on… is that responsible? i think not. I see no responsible drinking going on nor do I in future Deltopia events.
    Having to put the responsibility on local law enforcement and tax payers is inexcusable. I for one do not want to pay for these college party events through increased law enforcement and clean up crews.
    Most of these party goers aren’t even going to college or for that matter doing well if they are in school. It’s just another excuse for over crowding and garbage that lines the streets because they don’t know how to clean up after themselves. This is left to other agencies that have to come in and pick up after these “college students”. How about you all make it a point to clean up your messes instead of making others that never participated in the event do it an charge back to the owners. When extra clean up crews are called in its only right to pass on the charge to the residents without any dispute. I bet the parents that have to pay that bill would agree because mom and dad ending flipping that bill.
    The college experience isn’t about having 15,000 people drinking irresponsibly.
    Obviously this is just another opinion looking at it in a different view.

  3. I attended Deltopia this last year and it was a BLAST. being a student from the valley there isn’t much to do up here and the “college experience” doesn’t come anywhere near general expectancy. It was the perfect break from school for a weekend away. addressing the responsibility factor not only am I a 4.0 student but also engaged in honor societies and numerous school clubs. doesn’t mean I don’t like to have fun! Yeah there are the people that destroy, don’t know their limit, or are just plain idiots but that doesn’t mean deltopia should be over regulated so that it is no longer enjoyable. As far as the beaches being shut down it obviously did not halter the crowd from showing as can be seen in the staggering rates of attendees. It actually just made it really hot when all I wanted to do was take a dip in the ocean or float in there with my inflatable pool. It is understandable that there being access to the beach can lead to extreme pollution of the beach and surrounding water yet it seems to me the cleanup effort would not be much more extreme then what was seen in the streets. It would be reasonable to allot the daytime to attendees to come to the beach during the day but be closed around eight. Deltopia was a college experience I will never forget and will cherish in my future adult life.