Yes on Prop. G | Alcohol ban at beaches deserves a test

February 13, 2002 No Comments

Does arguments in this article sound familiar? It was written in the San Diego Union Tribune back on February 13, 2002:

San Diego voters have lots of good reasons to vote for Proposition G, the temporary booze ban at Pacific and Mission beaches. Here are two of them:

  • When La Jolla Shores banned drinking in 1991, after years of alcohol-fueled problems there, reported crime dropped 80 percent and arrests fell 43 percent. Today, it’s a nice family beach; it didn’t used to be.
  • The major financial contributors opposing the beach ban are liquor stores, including many in the beach area, and beer and wine distributors. They have a vested financial interest in alcohol consumption on the beach.

Opponents have spent their liquor industry money on a hired gun, political consultant Bob Glaser, to fight the ban. Meanwhile, those supporting alcohol-free beaches are prevention activists, beach residents, parents, police, lifeguards, judges and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Nobody is being paid to support the beach ban. It’s strictly a volunteer operation.

Voters should ask, why is it so important to opponents to drink on Mission and Pacific beaches? Alcohol is banned on beaches in much of Southern California, and people still have fun on those beaches. Manhattan Beach and Newport Beach are still as hip, Hermosa Beach and Huntington Beach are still as laid back, Venice Beach is still as funky. Imperial Beach is an infinitely nicer place since the city banned alcohol on the beach. People in Carlsbad say that when their beach went alcohol-free, it was like night and day. Problems simply ceased.

Alcohol is still allowed on some state beaches, such as Torrey Pines and Silver Strand. But Mission and Pacific are urban beaches with plenty of parking and adjacent to heavily populated urban neighborhoods full of bars, restaurants, shopping and entertainment. Millions of people — lifeguards say over 20 million — visit these two beaches each year. That’s not the case at Torrey Pines and Silver Strand. And that’s why those state beaches don’t have alcohol problems.

What kind of problems do Mission and Pacific beaches have? The violent crime rate in Mission Beach is about three times the city average. In a two-year period, the two beach areas reported over 17,000 alcohol-related arrests, about one-third of the entire city’s total. While it’s true that Pacific Beach has a lot of bars, Mission Beach does not, and its population is much smaller. Yet it has as much alcohol-related lawbreaking as Pacific Beach. Why? It’s the beach.

Ask cops or lifeguards. Beaches are attractive places for people, and especially for kids, to abuse alcohol because there are few controls. Unlike in a bar, there’s no proprietor to card you or to bounce you if you get out of hand. The beach is so big that cops are few. Besides, they have to catch you in the act of urinating or threatening somebody to arrest you.

Face it, a lot of people don’t go to Mission Beach in the summer because it’s scuzzy and rowdy. Why is it scuzzy and rowdy? Because of alcohol.

Let’s see what one summer is like without alcohol. Because the beach ban was contested last year, it would only be in effect, if approved on March 5, through the end of this year. If Proposition G passes, we’ll have one summer of sobriety on Mission and Pacific beaches. We’re convinced beach-goers will love it and want to make the ban permanent.

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