June alcohol curbs pay off as crime declines in Mission Beach

September 10, 1991 No Comments

Eddy McNeil. San Diego Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Sep 10, 1991. pg. B.5

Ray Hamel said he was so disgusted with crime in Mission Beach earlier this summer that he was ready to sell his sporting goods store and move out of the area.

But emergency alcohol use restrictions enacted by the City Council in June turned things around to the point that he no longer refers to the area around his store on Ventura Place as “the integrated combat zone,” Hamel said.

“There were stabbings, shootings, muggings. Everything bad,” Hamel said. “Now it’s a completely different world.”

Hamel was among a handful of business owners and community activists who appeared yesterday at a news conference with Councilman Ron Roberts, who sponsored the alcohol restrictions. Roberts released Police Department statistics indicating that crime in the area this summer was down drastically from last summer.

Virtually every category of crime in the area surrounding the Bahia Hotel dropped substantially after the emergency ordinance was enacted in response to the stabbing deaths of two men on June 1, according to the statistics. The ordinance banned alcohol consumption on the boardwalk in Mission Beach and within 10 feet of the walkway. It also banned alcohol consumption after 8 p.m.

“I can remember clearly (in) early June when in this area we had a couple of shootings that had us all very concerned,” Roberts said. “It was at the start of a summer that looked like it could be the most explosive ever.”

Roberts acknowledged that bad weather hurt beach attendance this summer. But he said he believed that the ordinance discouraged drinkers who otherwise would have been at the beach from loitering and causing problems in the area.

The crime statistics for the area showed that 22 crimes were reported from June 1 to Aug. 20, compared with 51 for the same period a year ago, a 56 percent drop. Arrests fell to seven from 57 the previous year, an 87 percent drop.

Arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol fell to four from 35 the previous summer. The Police Department also reported issuing 569 tickets for drinking violations, along with 56 written warnings and 1,554 verbal warnings.

Bill Luther, a member of the Mission Beach Town Council who also attended the news conference, said he is reconsidering his position that only a total alcohol ban would eliminate the criminal element from the beach.

“It was like somebody turned off a switch,” Luther said. “The felony stupids who want to hang out and cause problems for themselves and other people have left.”

Credit: Tribune Staff Writer

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