Beach residents brace for Fourth

July 2, 2005 No Comments

Ki-Min Sung. The San Diego Union – Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Jul 2, 2005. pg. B.1.1.7

Independence Day is nearly here, but longtime Mission Beach resident Gladys Bridge isn’t celebrating.

She’s barricading her property to protect her garden from the out- of-control throngs who descend on San Diego’s beach communities every Fourth of July.

“The crowds are unbelievably rowdy, drunk and dirty, and I wouldn’t think of leaving town,” Bridge said.

To hear Bridge tell it, Independence Day at the beach has become something of a heathen celebration. People unwilling to wait in line for a portable toilet urinate on her lawn. Asking them to stop is useless.

“A couple of fellows have looked at me but they can’t stop because they’re right in the middle,” Bridge said. “When they’re drunk, they don’t care.”

Bridge’s experiences are not unique. Several residents have been making trips to home-improvement stores for temporary fencing to keep trespassers off their property.

Police expect more than 1 million people to hit city beaches over the three-day weekend. Last year, 750,000 visitors left behind an estimated 100 tons of trash.

Police stepped up enforcement efforts last year, citing or arresting more than 2,300 people, including 33 for felonies. The former number is more than double the previous year.

Lt. Manuel Rodriguez said about 500 officers will again work the beaches throughout the extended weekend. During peak hours, as many as 70 uniformed and undercover officers will be patrolling the beach areas, with the goal of cracking down on violence, police said.

On a typical summer weekend, 20 to 30 officers are on duty every day in the beach areas, according to Rodriguez.

“We’re staffing at a higher level to set the tone,” he said. “We’re not going to tolerate people having drunk fests.”

Some residents have decided the best way to deal with the holiday is to leave town.

Pacific Beach resident Tom Deitz is among them. He’s fed up with the rowdy behavior when he goes for a stroll on the beach with his young son.

“At the end of the day, they’re stupid drunk, they don’t clean up anything and it extends all the way from the beach to the neighborhoods,” said Deitz, who left for Hawaii. “Last year, it looked like a tornado had hit a garbage dump.”

Beach residents blame much of the problem on alcohol consumption that is allowed on the sand. A proposal to ban alcohol from all beaches failed in 2002. Efforts to ban alcohol at Pacific Beach and Mission Beach on the Fourth of July have failed since then.

Alcohol consumption — from cans — is allowed between noon and 8 p.m. Keg beer is allowed on the beach Saturday and Sunday but not Monday.

Most other beaches do not allow alcohol. Del Mar has enacted a temporary ban from last night through 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Marcella Teran said crowd control efforts in her community are not enough. She recently founded Save Pacific Beach, a group to help residents resolve complaints. The group plans to be an information source for Pacific Beach and Mission Beach residents.

But Teran won’t be around. She’s leaving town for the holiday.

“There is so much yelling and screaming and rude behavior,” Teran said. “They come to Pacific Beach specifically to party.”

Not everyone is leaving.

Mission Beach Town Councilman Gary Glover said the Fourth of July crowd is part of the holiday ambience. He said he will spend his weekend grilling hamburgers and ribs for law enforcement officers.

“If you live here, it’s something you have to be tolerant of and almost enjoy the proceeds that go along with it,” Glover said.

Robert Rynearson, executive director of FreePB.org, said the key is personal responsibility.

“We think the answer is better management and participation by groups and the individual beachgoers themselves,” he said.

The day after

The Surfrider Foundation and Sun Diego are asking residents to help clean up local beaches from 9 a.m. until noon Tuesday. Volunteers can meet at: o Ocean Beach Pier, Ocean Beach o Belmont Park, Mission Beach o Pacific Beach Drive, Pacific Beach o Powerhouse Park, Del Mar o Ponto State Beach, Carlsbad o Oceanside South Jetty, Oceanside
[Illustration]
2 PICS; Caption: 1. Bike patrol officers made their way down the boardwalk in Mission Beach yesterday. Police will be busy this holiday weekend as more than 1 million people are expected to visit area beaches. 2. Beachgoers began flocking yesterday to area beaches as the Fourth of July weekend began. Some beach residents dread the holidays because of the party atmosphere and the drunks. (Eds. 2,7); Credit: 1,2. Nelvin Cepeda / Union-Tribune photos

Credit: Ki-Min Sung is a San Diego Union-Tribune intern.

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