Post-holiday beach blues | 6-hour cleanup by city, volunteers gathers 100 tons of trash

July 6, 2004 No Comments

Brian Hazle. The San Diego Union – Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Jul 6, 2004. pg. B.1

The fifth of July took on new meaning yesterday for volunteers and city workers who cleaned 100 tons of empty beer bottles, barbecues, beach chairs and other trash from more than a half- million Independence Day beachgoers.

Some 30 San Diego city workers, joined later by more than 100 volunteers, arrived about 6 a.m. with dump trucks and garbage bags. Over the next six hours, they combed 18 miles of beach and bay- front picnic spots, city beach manager Dennis Simmons said.

By noon, the beaches were clean.

The majority of volunteers, organized through several community groups, sifted through the debris for recyclable material.

Many of the volunteers were tourists appalled by the mess.

“I thought we were coming to the beach, but we came to a landfill,” Emily Overmyer, 18, of Palmdale, said as she stuffed a flattened 30-pack of Bud Light into a plastic trash bag. “It’s disgusting.”

Jane Knapp, a Michigan resident in San Diego for the first time, said she was “shocked” after she woke up in her Pacific Beach room and looked outside. “If someone came to my hometown for a party and didn’t clean up, I’d be pretty mad.”

July 5 is traditionally the worst of several holiday coastal cleanups. For many locals, the trash reaffirmed their opposition to alcohol on the beach. San Diego is the only city in the county that allows alcohol on its beaches. Most of the trash collected yesterday was beer bottles, beer cans and cardboard beer boxes.

After nine years of living on Sail Bay, Bruce Brown isn’t shocked by the amount of trash but is awed at how much is thrown to the ground within a few steps of empty garbage cans.

“If you don’t want this, you have to ban alcohol,” Brown said as he pointed to a dozen empty garbage cans amid piles of spent beer cans. “I hate to see that happen. We’ve watched Fourth of July go from a family holiday to a drunken brawl.”

Brown, a former president of a Sail Bay residents’ council, said the holiday has changed in the nine years he has lived in the neighborhood near Crown Point. The families who once celebrated Independence Day with community parades on the boardwalk, picnics and barbecues are gone, he said.

City employees — including firefighters, lifeguards, police and parks workers — said the crowds were generally well behaved on Sunday, considering the number of people at the beaches.

San Diego police jailed 77 people and issued 305 citations, most of them related to alcohol in the beach areas. They also issued 454 parking citations, Capt. Cheryl Meyers said.

“There were a lot of drunk people and the assaults, fights and all the behavior that goes along with overindulgence of alcohol,” Meyers said.

Brian Hazle: (619) 593-4952; brian.hazle@uniontrib.com
[Illustration]
3 PICS; Caption: 1. Keeping warm amidst the Fourth of July trash on Pacific Beach early yesterday morning were Janelle Esterwold and Johnny Gonzales, visitors from the San Fernando Valley. In the background is Crystal Pier. 2. Walking through the trash along the north shore of Sail Bay near Fanuel Park were early-morning beach visitors yesterday. 3. San Diego city workers and volunteers yesterday cleaned up trash from Sunday left on the beach south of Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach by Independence Day beachgoers.; Credit: 1,2,3. Don Kohlbauer / Union-Tribune

Credit: STAFF WRITER

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