BOOZE AND OUR BEACHES | LOOK TO CAUSES OF TROUBLE

June 7, 1991 No Comments

ROY SCHNEIDER. San Diego Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Jun 7, 1991. pg. B.9

SAN DIEGO — The answer to violence at the beaches? How about a battalion of neighborhood nannies armed with rolling pins and deployed along every few yards of sand and seaside turf?

They would have to be stout, perhaps a bevy of babushkas imported from Moscow. The Soviets need the jobs and we need the safety, right?

Sound ridiculous? Sure. But the multinational solution is no sillier than some solutions being espoused from San Diego’s political pulpits these day. Booze bans. Curfews. Drinking “nodes,” where wine sippers and Jack Daniels slaves rub shoulders in boozy bliss away from the teetotaling crowds. Of course, there’s the usual cry for more cops.

At best, these would be Band-Aids for a civic soul hemorrhaging as it battles an inevitable fact: San Diego is becoming a big city. It already is, really. Sixth-largest in the nation. Bad things sometimes happen in big cities. And they don’t only happen in “bad” neighborhoods.

This is not to deny the horror of the recent carnage. Last weekend, two men were stabbed to death in the parking lot of a bayfront resort hotel. Just nine months earlier, a man was shot to death in the same lot, and a teen-aged girl was gunned down in a nearby Ski Beach parking lot.

Those are just the incidences that resulted in deaths. Fist fights, car break-ins, catcalls to the bikini-clad — all this and more is increasing. The undeniable fact: Our beaches, bays and parks are taking on a tougher edge. But so is San Diego.

We are emerging from our sleepy little Navy town image. That civic slumber over, we will have to live with a few big-city nightmares.

For many San Diegans, that fact hits home only when the carnage common in other neighborhoods spills over into their own. The gang violence that ended in the most recent deaths is endemic in minority communities throughout the city. Often, murders there barely rate a paragraph or two in the paper.

“But now,” a old-line Pacific Beach resident recently lamented, “they are doing it in my neighborhood.”

Yes, beaches and parks aren’t immune from big-city grit. Even tony communities can’t expect to be much less prone to crime than other areas of the city. After all, they attract a cross section of the entire community — good and bad.

Just a few years ago, social workers were bemoaning the fact that many kids in gang-dominated areas were so fearful of leaving their neighborhoods, that they grew up seeing the beach only on post cards.

Now, more of those kids are exercising their rights to enjoy San Diego’s civic blessings. Hopefully, this new-found freedom will expose them to a world of opportunity. But some are going to bring their problems with them. The key now is for all involved to demonstrate tolerance.

The largely white beach-area population can’t succumb to prejudices that transform any group of three or more blacks or Hispanics into a gang. Visitors must realize that violence won’t be tolerated — at the beach or at home.

But booze bans? Curfews? Fenced-off drinking areas? Alcohol isn’t new to the beach. Late night partying isn’t new to the beach. So how are new rules governing them going to save the beach?

They aren’t. Such solutions best serve as short-term, emergency measures used sparingly — and temporarily — in trouble areas.

Eventually, San Diego must look beyond the quick fixes and face the causes of violence on and off the beach. Poverty. Unemployment. Alienation. Racism. These are the big-city problems that lead to big-city nightmares. They can make even a good boy go bad. Ask any nannie worth her rolling pin.

Roy Schneider is a Tribune editorial writer.
[Illustration]
1 DRAWING; Caption: Joseph Shoopack

Credit: Roy Schneider is a Tribune editorial writer.

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