Supporters of ban on beach booze see chance | Backers pin hopes on absentee ballots

March 7, 2002 No Comments

Angela Lau. The San Diego Union – Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Mar 7, 2002. pg. B.1.1.7

Both sides of a ballot measure that would impose a round-the- clock trial ban on alcohol on parts of Pacific Beach and Mission Beach stood ready to claim victory yesterday.

But they will have to stand around a while longer before they find out which group is right.

Although opponents of Proposition G finished election day with a narrow lead (4,118 votes out of a total of 152,558 votes cast), the count isn’t over yet.

The registrar of voters estimates there are still about 19,600 absentee ballots to be counted. Those are ballots that were dropped off by city residents on election day. They will be counted today, and Monday.

Proposition G opponents said they expect their lead to hold up.

Supporters, on the other hand, yesterday said voting patterns of the absentee ballots already counted indicate they may make up the 2.7 percentage point deficit.

“It’s anybody’s game,” said Jill Galante, co-chairwoman of San Diego Safe Beach Task Force, which supports Proposition G. “If you take a look at absentee votes counted in the beginning, we were up by 10 points. That is a positive sign. We can make it come back.”

Bob Glaser, consultant for the opponents — who heavily outspent supporters — said there is too much ground to make up. Glaser said the supporters would have to win more than 60 percent of the outstanding ballots to win.

“It might be slightly close, but we will hold at least a point over them,” Glaser predicted. “We’ll celebrate with beer in plastic cups at the beach.”

He said that absentee ballots dropped off on election day traditionally tend to vote in the same pattern as voters who went to the polls.

The measure’s author, City Council member Byron Wear, was realistic.

“We’ll probably come up short,” Wear said yesterday. “But it will be close. If (supporters) had additional financial resources, they would have been able to prevail. But I could be wrong.”

Wear, however, praised both sides for mobilizing voters.

“Participatory democracy in decision making is healthy,” he said. “This is a very complex issue. Regardless of which way it goes, the fact it is so close makes it important for public dialogue to continue about the conflict between public safety concerns and individual rights.”

Supporters of the trial ban contended that alcohol consumption at the beaches contributed to high crime rates in the two beach communities.

Police statistics show that more than one-third of alcohol- related crimes in the city in 1998-2000 were in Pacific Beach and Mission Beach, although police could not pinpoint how many such crimes originated from the beaches.

Throughout the campaign, supporters accused opponents of being financed by beer distributors and alcohol merchants who funded radio and magazine ads.

Supporters, with much less money, used mailers and fliers because of a lack of money.

According to campaign financial disclosures filed with the City Clerk’s Office, opponents received at least $22,150 from alcohol- related businesses inside and outside the two beach communities.

Opponents also raised $77,896 in cash and loans last year, mostly from alcohol-related businesses, to put the measure on the ballot.

Glaser said most of the pre-election campaign money came from small local businesses trying to protect their livelihoods.

Supporters reported raising a $8,102 in their last disclosure.

If passed, Proposition G would ban alcohol on Pacific Beach and Mission Beach from the south jetty to Felspar Street on the beach side and from Mission Point to Zanzibar Court on the bay side.

However, it would leave Ocean Beach and much of Mission Bay open to drinking. People who wish to hold gatherings that serve alcohol also could apply for permits to drink in the proposed trial ban areas.

Angela Lau: (619) 542-4584; angela.lau@uniontrib.com

Credit: STAFF WRITER

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