VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — It was a packed house on Thursday night in Virginia Beach as residents near Chic’s Beach discussed the fallout from Floatopia.
Dozens of people came out to the Ocean Park Civic League’s emergency meeting to voice their concerns over the annual beach bash.
Many who spoke were angry and said the city should’ve been ready for the event. Although the amount of litter left behind on the beach is what dominated headlines, people who live out here said the issue is way bigger than the trash.
A drunk fest and an invasion of the community, that’s how residents living in Ocean Park and surrounding areas described Floatopia and the worldwide attention it’s received.
“What a reflection on Virginia Beach we are,” Rebecca Anderson said. “I mean come on, this is my home.”
One by one, people described their experience with Floatopia visitors with things ranging from illegal parking and drug activity to beachgoers urinating on property, exposing themselves and even threatening homeowners.
“Last year there was three that were like passed out and the ambulance came right in front of my house,” said one woman who was visibly upset.
“I’m tired of it and the parking on Surry through, you couldn’t get one vehicle through there,” Anderson said “It has to stop.”
Others said they’ve felt ignored by the city for years since this event isn’t something new.
“You guys knew it was happening. There was no surprises, there was no porta potties, there was no waste disposal,” one man said. “I’m interested in hearing from the city — what are you gonna do to correct this perception? When are you gonna be of service to me.”
Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen apologized to the crowd.
“I stand before you, responsible for all that happened at your beach,” he said.
However that didn’t go far when he said he wasn’t aware Floatopia was happening Memorial Day weekend.
Hansen admitted the city should’ve been on top of it.
One thing most people agreed on was the need for more of a police presence.
“I think the root problem was it was like Abilene in 1870. There was no law enforcement,” said one man.
With rumors of another Floatopia being organized for 4th of July, Hansen said they’re on it.
“We are gonna ramp up enforcement,” Hansen said. “They’re going to be faced with a significant enforcement effort they’ve not seen before.
Additional resources like Sheriff’s deputies and marine enforcement would also be called in.
A resident asked Hansen if the city would be monitoring social media for the next possible Floatopia event and the answer was yes.
Hansen also said he’s consulting with the city attorney to see if any legal action can be taken against organizers.