Pacific Beach not as rowdy on weekends, say leadersMarch 7, 1997 No Comments
Terry Rodgers. The San Diego Union – Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Mar 7, 1997. pg. B.2
Friday and Saturday nights on the streets of Pacific Beach have been known to be rowdy versions of the movie “Animal House,” complete with drunken brawls, vandalism and lewd behavior.
And although weekends in Pacific Beach can still be pretty lively, community leaders contend that alcohol-fueled bravado and misbehavior aren’t nearly as prevalent as they once were.
“Pacific Beach used to have a very bad reputation for these alcohol-related crimes,” said Maria Lee, president of the Pacific Beach Town Council. “It is turning around.”
Local merchants say they perceive a decrease in booze-related crime and attribute it largely to a change in the way bars and restaurants along Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue promote their businesses and serve their patrons.
Fewer alcohol outlets are offering happy hours and other promotions that encourage excessive drinking. More bars are offering food and activities that give patrons something to do other than drink.
One establishment occasionally offers to pay the taxi fare for customers who become too tipsy to drive, Lee said.
In an effort to promote similar business practices, the Pacific Beach Improvement Association hosted a news conference this week to unveil its so-called Community Covenant.
The document is essentially a pledge on the part of business owners to serve alcoholic beverages responsibly, said Lt. Lou Scanlon of the San Diego Police Department.
“(It) represents the very best of what can be accomplished when government, business and the community work together to solve problems,” Scanlon said.
More than a dozen businesses with liquor licenses — there are about 200 in Pacific Beach alone — lined up after a Tuesday press conference to sign the covenant, which consists of a dozen pledges.
A sample: “We agree to discourage intoxication and refuse service to an obviously intoxicated person.”
Complying with the tenets of the covenant will not only make life more pleasant for residents living near Pacific Beach’s entertainment corridors, Scanlon said, it will also reduce a business’s exposure to lawsuits.
“However, despite our best efforts, our problems will not be solved until individuals act responsibly,” he said.
In addition to signing the covenant, several businesses have sent their employees to classes sponsored by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to train them on the finer points of the laws governing the sale of alcohol.
Not everyone agrees that the effort, which was financed by a $55,000 grant from the city, has resulted in a significant improvement.
Critics note that the most recent police statistics for Pacific Beach show that several categories of crime are on the rise.
“Pacific Beach has the highest DUI rate in the city of San Diego, and that concerns me,” said Donna Frye, proprietor of Harry’s surfboard shop and a member of the town council.
The current issue of a community newspaper even carries an ad from a local nightclub promoting a “reverse” happy hour in which patrons get discounts on drinks from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m., Frye said.
“The real problem is that there is an overconcentration of liquor establishments in Pacific Beach,” she said. “When you shove that many bars in one area, you are going to attract people that have only one purpose, and that is to get drunk and party.”
More than a few tavern owners who signed the covenant Tuesday have been cited for liquor violations by the ABC and even had their licenses suspended, she said.
“I think it’s great they are trying to do something, but it’s like trying to shut the lid on Pandora’s Box after you’ve already opened it,” Frye said. “I applaud their efforts. But I don’t see a victory.”Bars and Restaurants