Should an alcohol ban be tried at two beaches?

February 16, 2002 No Comments

The San Diego Union – Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Feb 16, 2002. pg. B.11.7.

Re: “Alcohol ban at beaches deserves a test” (B-1, Feb. 13):

“Why? It’s the beach . . . ” Yes, it is the freedom and relaxation of the beach that contributes to the alcohol-related lawbreaking, but don’t forget, Mission Beach is not “just the beach.” It is also a diverse neighborhood of permanent families, many with small children, and elders and professionals. Our homes at the beach are subjected to the noise, trash and violence spilling over from the drinkers on the sand. Police have been known to chase violators through our yards and any resident can tell stories of the broken bottles and alcohol-related trash.

All other San Diego parks and recreational areas abutting residential neighborhoods do not allow alcohol. Shouldn’t Mission Beach be afforded the same quality of life? At least give us a chance with a trial alcohol ban. DE VEE LANGE Mission Beach

The violent, lawless, vulgar, obscene, out-of-control behavior of the beach drunks demands preventive action. Hordes of police chasing them around is just not the answer. It makes good sense to try a beach alcohol ban for one summer. What are the opponents so afraid of? JOHN MEYERS San Diego

I was sorry to see your editorial (Feb. 13) urging voters to ban alcohol at Mission and Pacific beaches. The ban — and your misleading editorial — further prove the existence of the new American way: A few people ruin it for everyone else.

Our leaders have a naive but disturbing habit of blaming and banning inanimate objects for societal problems because that’s easier than dealing with the true problem — irresponsible behavior.

The police have plenty of ammunition to deal with alcohol-related trouble. Layering new laws on top of existing but under-enforced laws only infringes on those of us who abide by laws — we have another one to obey, criminals have another to break.

You claim that there are few controls at the beach and that rowdy drinkers can only be arrested for public urination or issuing threats. That’s laughable.

It is already illegal to drink alcohol on any street or sidewalk in the Mission Beach and Pacific Beach neighborhoods except on the sand, and it’s only legal there for eight hours a day. I find it difficult to believe that troublemakers have confined their drinking to the sand, or that closing off the last legal time and place to drink at the beach will have any positive effect.

It’s already illegal for minors to buy alcohol, let alone possess it. How will a total ban keep kids from drinking at the beach when they are already banned from drinking alcohol?

Here’s an idea, let’s temporarily enforce our existing laws this summer. I’m convinced responsible beach-goers will love it and want to make enforcement permanent.

Alcohol at the beach is not the problem. Irresponsible people and shoddy enforcement are. See you at the polls. ROBB MARSHALL San Diego

Check the endorsements on the ballot arguments for Proposition G. On the “no” side, you’ll find representatives from the town councils of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. On the “yes” side, you’ll find the presiding judge of the Juvenile Court, presidents of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, school board and police officers association. Does that tell you something?

Opponents claim the beach communities, as represented by town councils, are overwhelmingly against the ban, but town councils are often captured by single issue groups, or dominated by commercial interests.

In Mission Beach, the town council voted to support the ban. That’s what started the ball rolling toward Proposition G. Then it was swamped with dozens of new members rounded up from the bars, and promptly reversed position. In Pacific Beach, the council has long been dominated by restaurant and bar owners who think their community is best run as a perpetual party. BILL BRADSHAW San Diego

Last summer, my wife and I would go to the beach once or twice a week to enjoy the sunset with a couple of beach chairs, a table, brie, bread, and a bottle of nice wine. We would sit for a while, drinking a glass or two and talking about our day.

We never drove back drunk, never urinated in public and never committed any violent crime. I don’t see why the city should step in to ban such a uniting family activity.

Drinking alcohol on the beach can be abused, but these abuses are already illegal: all one needs to do is to enforce the existing laws. SIMONE SANTINI San Diego

I am opposed to the ban for one simple reason: the ban removes the rights of regular folks in its attempt to police a minority of problem drinkers.

A few years ago, my husband and I attended a theater performance at the Old Globe. We thought it would be nice to take a picnic dinner and enjoy Balboa Park before the performance.

We are both middle age and consider ourselves responsible adults. We included a small bottle of wine with our picnic dinner. We set up a card table and chairs on a grassy vacant space and prepared to enjoy our dinner and the gorgeous summer evening.

A mounted police officer ambled by and informed us that we were breaking the law by consuming our wine on park land. He was very nice about it, he explained the alcohol ban, and we emptied our plastic wine glasses.

To this day, I am still embarrassed about my “illegal activities.” Please allow us to enjoy ourselves at the beach responsibly. CATHERINE VALENTINE San Diego

I got my voters’ pamphlet the other day and found competing claims about police statistics. I know where the “Yes on G” stats came from, because I attended the hearing where the police presented them.

The “No on G” side claims a much lower number of alcohol violations and states their figures came from the minutes of the April 30, 2001 City Council meeting. Curious, I looked up the minutes on the city’s Web site. Guess what! There is nothing in those minutes about arrest statistics.

This is yet another example of the opposition’s deceptive statements. PEGGY JEAN BRADSHAW San Diego

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