No booze on beaches July 4, group urges | Task force looking into alcohol issues

April 17, 2007 No Comments

Chet Barfield. The San Diego Union – Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Apr 17, 2007. pg. B.3

PACIFIC BEACH — Contending that holiday revelry has gotten out of hand, a Pacific Beach planning group is asking the San Diego City Council to ban drinking at the community’s beaches and bay shores on the Fourth of July.

In a letter yesterday to Councilman Kevin Faulconer, the group’s chairman said the Pacific Beach Community Planning Committee unanimously voted to request the one-day ban to reduce alcohol- related crime, trash and police expenses.

“The town just turns into a drunk haven the Fourth of July,” chairman Mark Mitchell said yesterday. “I don’t think our forefathers intended the younger generation to celebrate our Independence Day with a drunken party.”

Faulconer was out of town yesterday and could not be reached for comment. He had empaneled a task force in September to study beach- alcohol issues in his district. After months of community forums, the 12-member task force will begin debating proposals this month and expects to make its recommendations by June.

Mitchell said his planning group didn’t want to wait for the task force, because July 4 is the biggest party day of the year in Pacific Beach.

“I’ve caught people, both men and women, urinating in my front yard during the day because they’re drunk,” he said. “We want a more family-oriented beach.”

Faulconer’s council district covers Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and Ocean Beach. A group fighting new alcohol restrictions in all three communities, FreePB — which stands for “parks and beaches,” not Pacific Beach — wants “better enforcement of existing laws and education of the public,” said board member Rob Rynearson.

“We want to prevent erosion of our personal freedom,” he said.

Leaders of planning and community groups in Mission Beach and Ocean Beach yesterday said they’ve taken no official positions in the long-standing debate over alcohol while they wait for the task force recommendations. Drinking on the beach is banned at La Jolla but is permitted noon to 8 p.m. at Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and Ocean Beach.

Ocean Beach Planning Board past chairman Tom Gawronski said the board included a referendum in its last election asking residents whether they want more limits on beach drinking, and three out of four said no.

“Our position here is if the city is going to ban alcohol on the beaches, they should ban alcohol on all the beaches,” he said. “We certainly don’t want Pacific Beach and Mission Beach to ban alcohol and leave Ocean Beach as the only place.”

Mission Beach Town Council President Mary Swanson said her community is sharply divided. “There are a lot of people in favor of a July 4th ban, giving it a try, and a lot of people opposed,” she said.

Pacific Beach is also split, said Town Council President Ruby Houck. She said a community vote last year narrowly favored seeking a year-round beach-drinking ban.

Credit: STAFF WRITER

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