Booze bans on beaches spreading | Some state parks posing restrictions

October 28, 2001 No Comments

Michael Gardner. The San Diego Union – Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Oct 28, 2001. pg. B.3

Shaded by coastal redwoods, campers can still enjoy a good, old- fashioned wienie roast in the Santa Cruz hills. But, go for the gusto and a park ranger may douse the party.

Henry Cowell Redwoods is one of the state parks to ban booze from its campgrounds. Although such restrictions remain rare, California’s park system quietly has imposed limits on alcohol at a range of popular attractions — mostly lakes and beaches.

The restrictions are not always welcome. A cold beer on a hot day is part of the American tradition. A little wine with cheese generally is a must for couples on a romantic coastal getaway.

In San Diego, city voters on March 5 may elect to add parts of Mission and Pacific beaches to a growing list of coastal parks that ban drinking.

Opponents, like Karl Jaedtke, president of the Mission Beach Town Council, insist better enforcement and education would alleviate many of the problems.

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

If the ban goes into effect, people won’t be able to just pack up their coolers and migrate to just any other beach.

Most state beaches in the county have had firm no-alcohol rules for some time. Torrey Pines is the only state beach in the immediate area that still allows visitors to grab a cold one. Others include Del Mar and Silver Strand.

“The difference between here and Pacific Beach has a lot to do with the types of visitors,” said Gary Olson, a ranger at Torrey Pines.

“Torrey Pines is more of a quiet, beautiful area to go for a walk. Pacific Beach has always been the party place where you want to go if you’re the under-30 crowd.”

However, Torrey Pines, which can draw as many as 60,000 on a summer Saturday, is poised to clamp down if its alcohol-friendly policy lures rowdy crowds, Olson said.

Dave Vincent, superintendent of state parks in the Santa Cruz region, acted before any such invasion. He banned alcohol in many locations immediately after the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors imposed restrictions at some of the university town’s most popular beaches and parks.

“We didn’t want to send the reverse message that state beaches are the place to come and party,” he said.

Citing concerns raised by families, Vincent this year extended the alcohol-free zone to include the campground at Henry Cowell Redwoods.

“We were getting complaints from park visitors, basically saying they didn’t feel safe,” Vincent said.

After the ban went into effect, noise complaints and other problems plummeted, he said. “It’s made a huge difference,” Vincent said.

In South Lake Tahoe, ranger Steve Johnson said alcohol has been banned at a few parks and beaches, mostly to discourage transients. Rangers simply explain the rules and ask visitors to pour it out.

“We don’t have any beer Nazis,” Johnson said.

Of the 266 state parks, about four dozen have complete or partial bans on liquor.

Parks Director Rusty Areias said there are no plans to go dry statewide.

“Alcohol is not a problem in most places. Where it becomes a problem, we deal with it,” he said.

Credit: COPLEY NEWS SERVICE

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