City Council must reconsider ban on alcohol at beaches | Clerk verifies opponents have enough signatures

June 26, 2001 No Comments

Angela Lau. The San Diego Union – Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Jun 26, 2001. pg. B.1

Opponents of a round-the-clock ban on alcohol at parts of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are now officially armed with enough voter signatures to force the City Council to reconsider the ban.

Yesterday the city’s elections officer, Joyce Lane, said the required number of petition signatures was verified as those of registered voters. Council members now have two choices: to rescind the ban or put it on the ballot.

They have 10 days to make up their minds after Lane reports the verification results at the July 23 council meeting.

“It’s pretty obvious people don’t like the idea of enhanced regulation of alcohol consumption on the beach,” said Don Mullen, spokesman for the opposition campaign.

“Our polling shows (the ban) will be defeated if it went to the voters,” Mullen said. “We’d like the City Council to rescind it to save taxpayers’ money and use it on the beaches instead.”

The campaign to overturn the test ban — Ban the Ban II — followed a controversial City Council decision in April to impose a 1 1/2 -year trial ban on alcohol at parts of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach currently prohibit drinking on beaches from 8 p.m. to noon.

The test area would have covered Mission Beach from the south jetty to Pacific Beach Drive, and Pacific Beach from Pacific Beach Drive to Felspar Street near Crystal Pier. Beaches on the bay side were to be included.

The ban, however, was never enforced because opponents collected enough signatures from voters to stall it.

On May 30, two days before the test ban was to be implemented, opponents filed 52,123 names with the city clerk, asking for a referendum. The number of signatures far exceeded the 31,631 names needed.

That automatically suspended the ban while the city clerk verified that those who signed were registered voters.

A referendum would cost $75,000 if tagged on to the March 5, 2002, primary and City Council elections, Lane said.

Supporters of the total ban on alcohol said they are fed up with public drunkenness and other alcohol-related problems in the beach communities.

Police statistics show Mission Beach leading the city’s neighborhoods in alcohol-related violations from 1998 to 2000 with 10,374 arrests. Pacific Beach recorded 7,019 violations and Ocean Beach had 2,322 violations in the same period.

Scott Peters, one of the five council members who voted for the trial ban, said he is inclined to let voters decide, but would like to listen to arguments first.

Councilman Byron Wear, architect of the ban, is discussing a decision with his staff but is not opposed to a referendum, said his press secretary, Peter Bryan.

Toni Atkins, another ban supporter, said both supporters and opponents are so forceful in their arguments that it may be best to let voters decide.

Mayor Dick Murphy, who also voted for the ban, said in a statement that he would review the city clerk’s report and listen to testimony before making a decision.

George Stevens voted for the ban and said through his press secretary yesterday that he wants to hear arguments from both sides before deciding.

Ralph Inzunza, one of the three council members who voted against the ban, said he prefers that the council rescind the ban, while Brian Maienschein, who also voted against the ban, said he supports a referendum. The third council member, Jim Madaffer, is weighing his options, his communications director Leslie Webb said.

Donna Frye, elected to the City Council June 5 and whose district includes Pacific Beach, said she wants to find out what her constituents prefer and consider the implications of the choices before making up her mind.

Some supporters of the trial ban, such as Bill Bradshaw, said they prefer a referendum.

“(The opponents) want to rescind it because they don’t know any more than you and I how voters would react to this,” Bradshaw said. “I’ve worked too hard for this. Let’s put it to a vote.”

Credit: STAFF WRITER

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