Lockwood asks booze ban for city’s beaches, parks

January 3, 1991 No Comments

Kathryn Balint. San Diego Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Jan 3, 1991. pg. B.6.2

San Diego City Manager John Lockwood yesterday asked for a wide- ranging ban on alcohol at all city beaches, shoreline parks and several large inland parks in an effort to curb rowdy behavior.

In a report to the City Council, Lockwood recommended a permanent ban that would cover Mission Bay Park, Sunset Cliffs and Ocean Beach, as well as Mission Trails Regional Park, Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, Tecolote Canyon Natural Park and Marian Bear Memorial Park, which spans San Clemente Canyon.

The ban also would include public rights of way such as sidewalks, streets and parking lots, in Mission Beach and west of Mission Boulevard in Pacific Beach.

Alcohol currently is allowed at most city beaches. The council’s Public Facilities and Recreation Committee, which already has approved a more limited prohibition, is scheduled to discuss Lockwood’s recommendations next week.

Lockwood’s proposal comes one year after the council killed a volatile proposal to prohibit booze at all city parks and beaches.

While the suggestion of a broad booze ban sparked a bitter debate last year, Terri Williams, deputy director of the city Park and Recreation Department, said the time has come for prohibition.

“The difference between then and now seems to be one additional summer of problems on the beaches,” said Williams, who is in charge of the city’s coastal beaches and parks.

“It appears that people are getting frustrated to the point that they are willing to sacrifice some of their personal privilege of drinking alcohol on the beach to get a quieter, more family- oriented beach,” she said.

In December 1989, during what was expected to be a routine discussion of park safety, the council recreation committee stunned San Diegans when it proposed expansion of an alcohol ban at trouble- prone La Jolla Shores beach to a total prohibition at all city beaches and parks. Citizens on both sides of the issue inundated City Hall with telephone calls and letters and packed council chambers during a public hearing.

Critics of the ban argued that laws already were on the books to control drunken behavior and that law-abiding citizens would be penalized because of a few irresponsible beachgoers.

The council advocated less drastic options to cut down rowdy, drunken behavior at public beaches and parks. An experimental ban that began in August at La Jolla Shores, adjacent Kellogg Park and North Park Community Park was hailed as a rousing success by neighboring residents, who said the beach and parks were safer, cleaner and quieter.

In a committee meeting in November, a majority of council members supported a permanent ban at all ocean beaches from South Mission Beach to Torrey Pines, as well as three inland neighborhood parks. Lockwood’s recommendation greatly expands the council’s proposal.

City Councilwoman Abbe Wolfsheimer, who initially pushed for a trial ban on alcohol at La Jolla Shores, said prohibition worked well for that beach but that she isn’t sure if an across-the-board ban is in order.

“We’ve had hundreds of letters commenting on how the drug problem has ended on the beach and in the parking lot, how the fire rings are not being abused,” Wolfsheimer said.

“We have had less vandalism, less noise, less confrontation,” she said. “Indeed, the beach and the parking lot have been turned back to the residents and the visitors….How it’s going to work in the other areas of the city, I don’t know.”

Before he can decide whether a sweeping alcohol ban is necessary, Councilman Ron Roberts said he wants to know if current laws regulating rowdiness are being enforced. His 2nd District includes all of the city’s beaches except La Jolla.

Regulations adopted in 1987 forbid drinking between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. at all city beaches except Ocean Beach, where the ban goes into effect at midnight. Open alcoholic beverages are prohibited in beach parking lots.

Many communities in Southern California either ban alcohol or restrict its use on public beaches. Alcohol is banned on Los Angeles County beaches, and on Long Beach, Laguna Beach, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach beaches, as well as on Oceanside, Carlsbad and Leucadia beaches.

Credit: Tribune Staff Writer

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