July 3-5 drinking restriction a result of fights last year | Del Mar to ban booze at beaches for holiday

June 28, 2002 No Comments

Michael Burge. The San Diego Union – Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Jun 28, 2002. pg. NC.1.NI

DEL MAR — Sheriff’s Lt. Don Fowler does not want to relive last July 4.

A fight broke out on the 26th Street beach that day and deputies had to force their way through a crowd of 1,500 to reinforce comrades with their backs to the ocean to pull out three people arrested in the brawl.

“I was right there in the middle of it and it was not a good place to be,” Fowler said.

To prevent a recurrence, the City Council voted last year to ban alcoholic beverages on the beach between 6 p.m. July 3 and 6 a.m. July 5. The ban covers all public places, including parks and parking lots.

Deputies arrested five people at the foot of 25th and 26th streets as a result of the July 4 brawl, and a dozen others throughout the day, Assistant City Manager Joe Hoefgen said. Ten of those arrests involved alcohol.

Hoefgen said the city also has asked the Sheriff’s Department to double security on the beach from last year’s level, so it will have more than 30 deputies on patrol.

“Over time it has gotten to a point where people come, they get hot, they drink too much, fights and other problems occur as a result,” Fowler said.

Mayor Mark Whitehead said the City Council had mixed feelings about enacting the ban but decided it was necessary to control the unruly behavior.

“Every year the rowdiness that derives largely from drinking has gotten worse, and last year was the worst,” he said.

A brawl broke out in 1998 as well.

Whitehead said most adults who drink on the beach do not create problems, but underage drinking on July 4 was rampant.

Beach-goers interviewed Wednesday generally agreed that an alcohol ban was appropriate for the holiday, when 35,000 people jam Del Mar’s beaches, drawn partially by the fairgrounds’ evening fireworks display.

I’m for it,” said Greg Batiyenko, of Del Mar. “Most of the drinking problem here is underage drinking. College students. High- school students.”

His friend, Sean Jacobs, agreed.

“I like the fact they’re going to ban alcohol,” Jacobs said. “I’m just coming back from college and have seen people being reckless.”

City and law-enforcement officials say the ban makes it easier for deputies to target underage drinking.

Brad Tobias, sipping a beer on the beach at the end of Via de la Valle, said he favored the holiday ban, too. He said it will allow authorities to control a holiday crowd that can get rowdy, especially when the day gets hot and the alcohol flows freely. He said he avoids the Del Mar beach July 4.

“The people who cause the problems aren’t the people who come from Del Mar,” said Tobias, of Encinitas.

Fowler said the Sheriff’s Department will stress voluntary compliance by posting deputies at beach entrances to warn people not to take alcohol onto the sand.

“If we see somebody starting to bring beer out we’re going to ask them to take it back to their vehicle,” Fowler said. “Or if they’re juveniles we’ll take it from them.”

The city has posted signs at beach entrances informing people of the ban.

“Anybody who violates the ordinance after all that will be arrested,” Fowler said.

The ordinance provides for a $100 fine for a first offense and $200 and $500 for second and third offenses.

The Sheriff’s Department will use the same traffic-control plan it used last year, closing off street ends at the beach as they fill with cars, Fowler said. The department will also close Camino del Mar when necessary to control traffic and crowds, though residents of the beach area will still be given access to their homes.

Hoefgen said the city has hired a private firm to help control traffic, freeing up deputies for law enforcement.

Michael Burge: (760) 476-8230; michael.burge@uniontrib.com
[Illustration]
2 PICS; Caption: 1. Adrianne Smith (right) relaxed with a cold beer after playing volleyball at Dog Beach in Del Mar earlier this week. At her side was James Kennedy. Alcoholic beverages will be banned at city beaches over the July 4 holiday period. 2. Greg Batiyenko, 18, (right) and Sean Jacobs, 19, stopped by a sign warning of the holiday ban on booze at Del Mar beaches. The city ordered the ban in an effort to avoid a recurrence of fighting that broke out last year. (NC-1); Credit: 1,2. Scott Linnett / Union-Tribune photos

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