Booze ban at La Jolla Shores Aug. 2

June 19, 1990 No Comments

Jeff Ristine. San Diego Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Jun 19, 1990. pg. B.1

On Aug. 2, La Jolla Shores beach goes dry.

The round-the-clock ban on alcohol at the beach and an adjacent park is a six-month experiment, approved by the City Council yesterday in response to complaints that drinking is making city beaches more and more unpleasant.

It also represents a break with tradition in San Diego, one of the few coastal communities in Southern California that, with limitations, permit imbibing at public beaches.

“Our current laws are reactive, they are not proactive,” said Judith Winston of Pathfinders, an alcoholism treatment center. “Current laws do not prevent the problem.”

A similar prohibition will be imposed at North Park Community Park, the testing ground for a possible extension of the booze ban to all inland parks.

The problem, according to residents near the beaches and some parks, is that drunken revelry and even violence have increased to an unacceptable level.

Critics — ranging from those who enjoy a glass on wine on the beach at sunset to members of a dues-paying organization called the Beer Drinkers of America — argued that the trouble still is generated by a minority of beach- and park-goers. But the council no longer could resist the pressure to begin tightening the city’s relatively permissive approach toward alcohol at the beach.

“It’s time to put nostalgia aside,” said Councilwoman Abbe Wolfsheimer, whose district includes La Jolla Shores. “It’s time to be fair.”

Regulations adopted by the council in 1987 forbid drinking between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. at all city beaches except Ocean Beach, where the prohibition goes into effect at midnight. Drinking in beach parking lots already is banned round the clock; so are glass beverage containers, regardless of content.

The expanded moves against alcohol were approved in a 7-1 vote, with Ron Roberts opposed and Mayor O’Connor absent.

They go into effect two weeks after the second reading, or about Aug. 2. Signs will be put up to publicize the tighter law. Organized groups of 75 people or more will be eligible to apply to the city for alcohol permits at the three areas covered by the new law.

Terri Williams, deputy director of the Park and Recreation Department’s coastal division, said park staff and police will judge the success of the program over the next six months by comparing disturbances and crimes in the test areas with those in the same period last year.

A council majority in December voted for a full-time ban on drinking at all city beaches and parks. The council quickly backpedaled, however, after a loud public outcry to the unexpected move.

Council members yesterday repeatedly emphasized the sunset clause in the ban, meaning alcohol policy automatically will revert to current law unless the council votes to extend the six-month test. Should an analysis of the results prove positive, however, there is little doubt the ban will become permanent, at least for La Jolla Shores.

The La Jolla beach and its adjacent park, Kellogg Park, were selected mainly because Wolfsheimer volunteered them for the experiment.

South Mission Beach, where alcohol problems are by all accounts considerably worse, is represented by Councilman Bruce Henderson, who prefers to continue allowing drinking by those who do not cause trouble.

“We need more officers in that area,” said Henderson. “We need to enforce the laws on the books.”

The North Park location, meanwhile, has experienced “continuous problems with alcohol usage over the last two or three years … throughout the day and into the evening,” according to a Park and Recreation Department report. The councilman for the area, John Hartley, was willing to let it be designated as a test of alcohol control in inner-city parks.

Supporters of the tougher regulations said heavy drinkers make it impossible to take families to the beaches or to enjoy peace and quiet after dark.

The 10 p.m. shutoff, beach-area resident Dick Kylberg said, is “a little bit like closing the barn door after the horse has got out.”

But Martin Mosier, who lives about as close to La Jolla Shores as Kylberg, said the regulations will be “discriminatory” against those who cannot enjoy the ocean from their homes.

And Bill Schreiber, executive director of the local chapter of Beer Drinkers of America, said the city’s effort is an overly “simplistic” attempt to control alcohol abuse. “Those who are prone to do so,” she said, “will continue regardless of any new rules or regulations.”

Credit: Tribune Staff Writer

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