Booze ban at beaches a topic at P.B. festival

May 13, 2001 No Comments

Amy Oakes. The San Diego Union – Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: May 13, 2001. pg. B.2

It was vintage Pacific Beach yesterday as thousands of people crowded Garnet Avenue, listening to local bands, chowing down on hot sausage sandwiches and kettle-cooked popcorn and shopping at trendy shops and booths.

The 26th annual Pacific Beach Block Party did everything it was supposed to do — show off this laid-back beach community, its heritage and all that it has to offer. It was like a time warp, back to a more relaxed surf-city style of living.

“This represents San Diego pretty well,” said Steve Ashton, as he motioned toward the crowd of young, old and canine. “People come from all over.”

The party that stretches from Ingraham Street to Mission Boulevard had all the makings of previous celebrations. Nine performance stages, more than 50 food vendors and about 400 booths featuring arts, crafts and corporate promotions.

Organizers said the goal of the street festival is to celebrate and support this small beach community. And, this year, some said, there was new sense of urgency to preserve its festive atmosphere.

The San Diego City Council last month approved a trial 24-hour ban on alcohol at Mission Beach and Pacific Beach up to the landmark Crystal Pier. The ban would go into effect June 1 and last until Dec. 31, 2002.

Opposition was almost immediate, as residents of those communities began signing a petition to fight the ban. They need the signatures of 31,631 registered voters by 5 p.m. May 30 to force a citywide vote on the issue on the March 2002 ballot.

One community group, Ban-the-Ban II, used the block party as a way to get more support and signatures. With a booth and about 10 petitioners working the crowds, the group hoped to collect 5,000 signatures.

Karl Jaedtke, president of the Pacific Beach Town Council, which along with Ocean Beach and Mission Beach opposed the ban, said they had more than 30,000 signatures as of 11 a.m. yesterday.

“We’ll probably double that when we’re through,” Jaedtke said. “That should send a message to the politicians.”

City Councilman Byron Wear, who championed the ordinance, said he expected a fight, but felt it was important to make the beaches safer for families. He said the city spends almost $1.5 million on police services for a one-mile stretch of Mission Beach.

“Frankly, the community is out of control,” Wear said. “We feel the alcohol situation contributes to the problem.”

Jaedtke said his community already has a ban on drinking on the beach from 8 p.m. to noon. He suggested stronger police presence rather than legislation that would change the character of Pacific Beach.

“We’re a tourist destination,” he said. “People come here to enjoy themselves and do things they can’t do at home.”

Ed and Dee Dees, an Ocean Beach couple who have been street fair regulars for 20 years, said they like Pacific Beach just how it is.

“The ban will take away some of the fun,” said Ed Dees, a retired Navy officer.

The Dees spent much of yesterday sampling chili, potato chips, Polish dogs and prime rib sandwiches.

“We’ve been eating all the way,” said Dee Dees, 62, on their return trip toward Ingraham Street. “That’s why we keep walking.”

Pacific Beach resident Bill Kepner said the festival gave him a good opportunity to explore his beloved “tightknit little community in a city.”

“You get to see the shops you don’t normally see,” said Kepner, taking a break with his 2 1/2 -year-old daughter Cassidy. “Plus, I get to entertain her.”
[Illustration]
1 PIC; Caption: Gary Braden of Pacific Beach signed a petition against a trial ban on alcohol at Mission Beach and Pacific Beach that goes into effect June 1.; Credit: John Gastaldo / Union-Tribune

Credit: STAFF WRITER

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