If you don’t know mayoral candidate Kevin Faulconer – and even Faulconer says many San Diegans don’t – you’ve probably at least felt the effects of one thing he did.

Depending on your take, Faulconer’s either the guy who made it so you can’t have a beer at your family’s beach barbecue, or he’s the guy who made your family’s beach barbecue safe from drunken louts.

Faulconer, a city councilman, spearheaded the alcohol ban on all San Diego beaches, a ballot measure that changed the city’s culture for regular people perhaps more than any other over the past decade.

“It was the right thing for San Diego,” Faulconer said Thursday.


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For a long time, drinking at the beach had been something that separated San Diego’s coastlines from much of the rest of the state. Other beach communities began banning alcohol in the 1970s. San Diegans had rejected similar booze bans before one passed in 2008.

Faulconer, who represents Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and neighboring communities, pushed his Council colleagues in 2007 to support a one-year alcohol ban over the opposition of then-Mayor Jerry Sanders and Police Chief Bill Lansdowne. Once that happened, Faulconer got the Council to put the issue before voters and then raised money for its passage.

“Kevin’s leadership was instrumental,” said Jim Lantry, the campaign manager for ban supporters.

Faulconer didn’t always want alcohol banned at the beach. He campaigned against a ban before his 2006 election to the Council. His opponent, now-Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, favored a limited ban. (Faulconer beat Gonzalez by 724 votes.)

After his victory, Faulconer formed a task force on beach alcohol issues. The group agreed to 21 minor changes along the lines of “increase trash receptacles,” but punted on an all-out booze ban. Faulconer said the group provided vital community input on a divisive issue. But Katie Keach, then a Pacific Beach town council member who served on the task force, said it didn’t serve much of a purpose.

“I’m pretty sure it was for political cover,” said Keach, who’s now the spokeswoman for interim mayor Todd Gloria.

Soon after Faulconer’s task force wrapped, things changed.

A Labor Day booze-fueled melee on Pacific Beach brought out cops in riot gear. Revelers threw bottles at the police. The police pepper-sprayed crowd-goers. And national television audiences were treated to handheld videos of drunks generally making idiots of themselves.

Faulconer held a press conference immediately after the fight to announce his support for a booze ban.

“Under no circumstances is it ever OK to have that environment happening,” Faulconer said at the time. “We have an obligation to protect people at the beach, and what happened on the beach was not safe.”

Faulconer’s position took Mark Arabo by surprise. Arabo heads the Neighborhood Market Association, which represents local grocers and some liquor stores, and his group had supported Faulconer during his Council race against Gonzalez. Arabo said Faulconer told the group he would never back a beach booze ban.

“He promised one thing and then when stuff happened and he was under the gun, he delivered something else,” Arabo said.

Arabo said he didn’t fault Faulconer for switching his position, but said he wished Faulconer would have talked about it with the group first.

“People can have change of hearts, but when they do, reach out to the people who helped get you elected and tell them why,” he said.

Faulconer said he doesn’t regret how he handled his switch, and met with numerous community members about it. The Labor Day melee, he said, showed the beaches needed help right away, and he acted accordingly.

Since 2008, alcohol crime has gone down at the beaches, though no one can say whether the ban’s the cause. Beach businesses seem to have suffered, too, though it’s similarly difficult to nail down whether the ban is responsible for the slump.

Faulconer said there’s no doubt the ban has made the beaches safer and cleaner, something he hears even from people who opposed it at the ballot box.

“From my standpoint, I’ve never looked back, nor has the community,” he said.

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    This article relates to: Beer Policy, City Council, Government, Mayoral Candidates 2014, Mayoral Election Issues 2014, Neighborhoods, News, Share, Special Mayoral Election 2014

    Written by Liam Dillon

    Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

    26 comments
    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    There is little question that the straw that broke the camel's back on this issue was the incident you (and others) describe. It was repeated over and over again on the news. There seems to me little question that absent that incident, the referendum would not have passed. The average San Diegan likely didn't care much. As Mr. Harris has noted, on that day the lifeguards requested more police resources, but the police had other priorities and had left the area to address them. You have suggested in your post that Mr. Faulconer was resistant to the change, but in the article Mr. Faulconer takes credit for spearheading it. Which is it? My take is that he was opposed when he thought he would take heat for supporting it and in favor when he thought he would be lauded for it. Had there been adequate police resources, properly deployed, the situation would not have occurred in the first place. It's notable, by the way, that the referendum did not achieve majority in the beach area districts as I recall. As for the situation being out of control generally, I disagree. I worked Mission Beach in the 1980s and made plenty of arrests for drunkenness and fights. That improved when the police were allowed to work 10 hour shifts and created a beach patrol, but worsened when police resources were diminished. Like all privileges, some will abuse them. That's why we have laws and people to enforce them.

    Jerry Hall
    Jerry Hall

    I was actually at each and every Beach Alcohol Task Force meeting. I served on the Implementation Committee of the Task Force and we had just gotten started before the September Labor Day weekend melee that triggered the beach alcohol ordinance the majority of San Diegans wanted in place for their beaches. As stated in the comments, this ordinance was hardly an 'impetus... primarily from affluent homeowners near the beach'. Most voters that supported the ordinance don't live at the beach - but, when they did come down if they dared they were shocked to see how bad conditions had gotten. Over seven months Councilmember Faulconer heard from many upset people, myself included (renter) and from dozens of residents (renters, homeowners and letters from visitors) throughout several beach communities. I recall lifeguard officers and command were at these meetings but, were unable to talk officially because of the gag order by the Mayor's office. When they did speak as citizens they didn't suggest for a minute that lack of police services was the problem - but, they did suggest a common theme - the irresponsible use of alcohol and all of the resulting associated problems and the negative burdens being placed on lifeguards at the risk of all beachgoers. I vividly recall, of all the people in the room, Kevin was the last person that wanted to put any restriction on the use of alcohol at the beaches. He was very clearly determined to allow us to meet and be heard but, I didn't believe there was a chance anything was going to change. This is somewhat confirmed by the statement from Ms. Keach that “I’m pretty sure it (the Task Force) was for political cover”. Further, I challenged Kevin at every meeting because I was passionate about his looking at things fairly and at the end of the day I was happy the ball was moved forward – that is, that more awareness had been created and that we at least had some things we could focus on to improve the area. Although the Task Force was relatively balanced in business and community members, a few of the key members representing beach communities sat silent - literally, month after month not asking a single question or making a comment – much to the chagrin of many concerned residents. At the conclusion of the Task Force- each of the consensus items (there are actually 23 http://www.pbspirits.com/2007/06/beach-alcohol-task-force-consensus-action-items/ ) was painstakingly won - because only items that achieved significant consensus would move forward. That means suggestions as to trial alcohol-free periods (i.e. holidays) were nixed, and you'll notice every mention of anything different than the status quo at the beaches with alcohol was nixed. So, at the end of Kevin’s Task Force a lot of ancillary items made the list but, the one thing we really wanted – even for a trial period – did not. (cont.)Beach Alcohol Task Force: Consensus Action Items " Pacific Beach Spiritshttp://www.pbspirits.com/2007/06/beach-alcohol-task-force-consensus-action-items/Beach Alcohol Task Force: Consensus Action Items From October 2006-June 2007 Councilmember Kevin Faulconer organized the Beach Alcohol Task Force. Comprised of community members from Pacific, Mission and Ocean beaches, the task force sought a holisti...

    Jerry Hall
    Jerry Hall

    (cont) 2 of 3 Then, a few months later on a holiday weekend, the September Labor Day weekend melee (aka 'riot') came. Regarding this for a second - two police came in response to a lifeguard request for help*. When they arrived, two guys push their police ATV vehicle in the ocean, one guy tries to pull it back, police notice him, hand cuff him and then started getting attacked by other beachgoers. Things escalated quickly. One guy came at police with a horseshoe stake (and lucky for him didn't get shot), others were throwing plastic bottles full of wet sand at them, others throwing rocks (yes we have rocks). Lifeguards were fearful and, having to maintain safe positions and still watch swimmers, abandoned their towers and swam out to lifeguard boats. The police command-Lieutenant at the time called for immediate backup and there is only one such response team in the city - one that comes in a large and prominent force – and these cops too were being attacked until they got things under control. *I was told lifeguards called for police back-up because they tried to close a slippery-slide because women were being groped, it was unsafe and everyone was ignoring lifeguards orders to close it (even though they have policing powers they decided to call for backup). I was very involved, engaged and working to find solutions with anyone that would work together - and the statement that lifeguards "called for police hours before things got out of hand" as Mr. Harris said is a first for me. I've checked dozens of posts, reports, blogs and news articles and this is no mention of this by lifeguards or police on or off the record. I know one thing and that is if the sense of urgency was conveyed police would have been there immediately. The September Labor Day weekend melee wasn't an isolated incident. It was the straw that broke the camels back. Things had already degraded significantly. We were told during the Task Force period that female lifeguards at the time (2007) had requested not to serve south of Crystal Pier because they were being insulted and harassed too much by the drunks. San Diego beaches were trashed after holiday weekends, I saw the tourist-families over and over again with eyes wide-open because of the things they were seeing and hearing on the beaches. I used to ask them what they were thinking and they would reply generally as being surprised things were so gritty – they had expected much different. I've heard so many insults, seen so many fights, saw women being badgered and harassed and the number of drunks staggering around that it was a no-brainer something had to change. What is being portrayed as 'a few people' who were out of control was in fact hundreds who consistently came down to the beach to get loaded. The whole reason the communities insisted on a Task Force-type attention was that things had gotten out of hand. (cont.)

    Jerry Hall
    Jerry Hall

    (cont.) 3 of 3 After the ordinance was installed, what's changed? Lifeguards then were distracted by drunks trying to swim and now they’re able to focus on millions more visiting our beaches (see below). Subjectively, the entire vibe on the beach has flipped. There's millions of people having fun, families, groups, singles and couples - all having a great time - even without alcohol. The beaches are more diverse and definitely more safe. Our beaches and bay would not be nearly as safe, fun and full as they are today without Kevin's leadership. Full you say? Yes, since the last year with alcohol on the beach (2007) vs. this past year (2012) San Diego saw an additional 3 million visitors or, enjoyed a 14% increase in beach population (http://arc.usla.org/Statistics/public.asp). These people are vacationing, dining, shopping and enjoying our safe beaches. Kevin joined with over 53% of San Diego voters city-wide and made a really tough decision, unpopular to some and one he clearly did not want to make but, he put public safety first. I take issue with the sensationalism that Kevin is somehow responsible for the beach alcohol ban. If anything it was the residents (renters and homeowners) that tried to show him that the problem had gotten too far out of hand. If you want to attack the people who are responsible for the beach alcohol ordinance bring it on. I and over a quarter million of San Diegans voted to rid our beaches of alcohol so it would be safer for everyone, and just as we predicted, it has become just that. Blaming Kevin for lack of police resources is puzzling. San Diego's police and lifeguard services had been being decimated before Kevin got into office. The political will by the then council and mayor was not supportive of cutting other budget areas to balance our public safety service needs. I believe Kevin has been doing the best he can with the very limited resources he's been given to work with. Lastly, I wonder why the sensationalism on this issue? Why doesn't the headline read "Faulconer helps attract 3 Million more Guests to San Diego Beaches". Or, tell us about lower crimes in and around the beach communities (relating to the beach and not the still dismal business district in PB) pre- and post-ordinance. Or, talk about the chronic lack of enforcement of our retail outlets by the State's ABC (part of the ‘lack of enforcement’ argument by beach-ordinance opponents). Perhaps do a piece on the chronic lack of resources being given our police, fire-rescue and lifeguard services for the last fifteen years. The point is, you can focus on systemic policy and funding issues or publicly lash the one politician that had the courage to stand up to enormously obnoxious residents who did not represent the majority of San Diegans, and go against their previously held position because it was the right thing to do. Do we want a Mayor that uses his mind instead of kowtowing to a belligerent and noisy few who act like insolent children because they didn't get what they wanted? These people seem to think our beaches are *their* beaches when in fact we are all simply stewards of a precious jewel that will bring rewards to every San Diegan for decades to come. Kevin started his San Diego political career after volunteering and serving on the Mission Bay Park Committee. I might have missed it but, I didn't see mention that, as a Councilmember and after seeing the park’s budget decimated, Kevin saw through an ordinance that ensured revenues earned there would stay there. Our beaches and bays are exceedingly more enjoyable for most all San Diegans because Kevin cares. Just as Hawaii has remained a premier destination (they have zero alcohol on their beaches) San Diego’s reputation has improved and our beaches and bay will continue to grow as a premier destination. I for one hope Kevin continues his focus as, combined with our weather we will become only better known.

    Jerry Hall
    Jerry Hall

    I try to be vigilant in describing what actually happened in my blogs and comments because I think it's important context. From my recollections, Kevin did not leave the Task Force or, at the few Implementation Panel meetings we had, suggesting any restrictions or ordinances regarding alcohol on the beach. When he heard about the Labor Day melee he headed straight down there and witnessed the event to some degree. The next day he called a press conference and announced he was going to advocate an ordinance to remove alcohol from the beach because he was (my word) sickened by what he saw. I believe had we not had the Task Force and had we not spent seven months bringing everyone including Kevin up to speed on the issue - and he saw the riot in and of itself, he likely would have not made that decision. The things he learned through the task force, then combined with the Labor Day melee gave him indisputable evidence there was a serious problem. When Kevin's ordinance came to council, I believe there was not enough support for the measure. In fact I believe it was the Councilmember from the Southeastern district that suggested a temporary ordinance as a trial. After a lot of discussion, this compromise ended up being what the council voted on. What I am saying then is that Kevin definitely spearheaded the issue to be brought to council as a proposal for what he believed was the right course of action. It was Kevin, as one member of the council, along with the voters that eventually made the decision. I also recall a key element that is a little fuzzy. That is, the public vote was forced by the opposition initiating a referendum via a successful petition drive, to force the issue to ballot. I believe they did this thinking the public would never vote for an ordinance but, their plan backfired - even with the illegal campaign financial shenanigans (below). The fact that fewer voters in the beach areas voted for the ordinance is a red herring. At the beach tolerance levels are higher, there is a huge young constituentency that was heavily influenced through social media and grassroots efforts by a very well coordinated group. To the best of my recollection, as it turns out a leading grassroots opponent-group and the Neighborhood Market Association spoken about in this piece were both reprimanded for illegal campaign financial issues during the election period (one using cash wrongly and the other diverting donations to apparently deflect the true source (alcohol-outlet owners?) days before the election). The market association paid a $14,000 fine (and violated similar laws in a more recent election). In any case, the fact that the greater San Diego voter base decided to implement their alcohol-free beach ordinance is telling considering the lengths the opposition went to scuttle the initiative. I absolutely respect your perspective as a lifeguard official and am not questioning your assertion that the police were understaffed. I agree actually because even back then in 2007 I believe it was Captain Boyd Long that explained they were twelve percent understaffed (or, about 280 officers). I can dig it all out but, I believe the police have had a special Beach Team for many years, even before 2007 when this event triggered the ordinance drive. Ultimately, it's difficult from my perspective to understand police and fire-rescue and lifeguard staffing levels because that's not publicly (readily) available data. I was under the belief that lifeguards actually stopped issuing citations around this same time period because of their departmental needs to focus on saving lives. I have these numbers here somewhere too but, definitely recall a steep decline in lifeguard citations. In any case this was not Kevin's fault as, since he had just been on the council for his first term, he wouldn't have been in long enough to influence the chronic police under-staffing issues. I've been watching this issue since then and it's very difficult for me to argue any one Councilmember being responsible for our chronically under-resourced public safety services. I too believe we're in for a rude awakening when we do end up in a major disaster or crisis. The 2007 fires brought our fire-rescue services to the brink and there's no telling when all of our public-safety services will be needed on a large scale again. At the end of it all I agree with you completely. It's a relatively few morons that screwed it up for all San Diego. Some of them lived at the beach, some from around the city and even some visiting from out of neighboring counties north of here and from around the world. We haven't been alone as Ft. Lauderdale, many of Florida's beaches, all of Hawaii's and most every major California beach had also already instituted some form of alcohol-free beaches. Finally, the whole thing is unfortunate but, something not mentioned yet is the lockstep behavior and voting of the alcohol-industry folks and their supporters on the task force. Had they not declined each and every suggestion of any modification of the beach-alcohol ordinances so the city could try alternatives we might not even be here. A lack of compromise from their side definitely didn't help. It seems to them it was strictly a financial issue, and when faced with pressing social concerns from the community they banded together and said no. The voters ended up being the last word.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster

    There is little question that the straw that broke the camel's back on this issue was the incident you (and others) describe. It was repeated over and over again on the news. There seems to me little question that absent that incident, the referendum would not have passed. The average San Diegan likely didn't care much. As Mr. Harris has noted, on that day the lifeguards requested more police resources, but the police had other priorities and had left the area to address them. You have suggested in your post that Mr. Faulconer was resistant to the change, but in the article Mr. Faulconer takes credit for spearheading it. Which is it? My take is that he was opposed when he thought he would take heat for supporting it and in favor when he thought he would be lauded for it. Had there been adequate police resources, properly deployed, the situation would not have occurred in the first place. It's notable, by the way, that the referendum did not achieve majority in the beach area districts as I recall. As for the situation being out of control generally, I disagree. I worked Mission Beach in the 1980s and made plenty of arrests for drunkenness and fights. That improved when the police were allowed to work 10 hour shifts and created a beach patrol, but worsened when police resources were diminished. Like all privileges, some will abuse them. That's why we have laws and people to enforce them.

    Marc Davis
    Marc Davis

    Ed and Chris you are right on! Faulconer has vetoed every budget to support more Lifeguards, fire and police officers. He voted to brown out fire engines through out San Diego including the beach area. The beaches of San Diego are our biggest tourist attraction and that means tax monies for San Diego. He has veto TOT taxes that could be used directly to increase the safety of the tourists and the locals that use our beaches. If safety services were put in place to protect and prevent many of the alcohol type incidents they would not happen. Allowing law abiding, tax paying citizens their rights to enjoy our beaches and parks. The easy vote was to punish all when there are only a few who can't follow the rules. I call that lazy leadership. San Diego is underserved in every area of public safety and Faulconer has voted in every way to continue that course.

    Marc Davis
    Marc Davis subscriber

    Ed and Chris you are right on! Faulconer has vetoed every budget to support more Lifeguards, fire and police officers. He voted to brown out fire engines through out San Diego including the beach area. The beaches of San Diego are our biggest tourist attraction and that means tax monies for San Diego. He has veto TOT taxes that could be used directly to increase the safety of the tourists and the locals that use our beaches. If safety services were put in place to protect and prevent many of the alcohol type incidents they would not happen. Allowing law abiding, tax paying citizens their rights to enjoy our beaches and parks. The easy vote was to punish all when there are only a few who can't follow the rules. I call that lazy leadership. San Diego is underserved in every area of public safety and Faulconer has voted in every way to continue that course.

    Scott Hasson
    Scott Hasson subscriber

    As my family now goes to PB or OB, we feel safer for having the alcohol banned on the beach. The PB issues where so bad we never went down there. I bet no one remembers the only guy who put his face on this issue and said enough was Kevin Faulconer. He should be praised for saving our beaches for families and in turn we as residents know he will govern as mayor the same way. We look forward to that kind of level and smart thinking in the mayors office. Kevin your looking more mayoral everyday!!

    David Millette
    David Millette subscriber

    Family empty beaches an the famlies i see sneak beer on the beach

    Patrick Flynn
    Patrick Flynn subscriber

    Yes, the only thing that matters is families. Everything that is not family friendly should be banned entirely. There should not be any places for adults to enjoy being adults. Everyone must conform their lives for the exclusive benefit of families.

    Scott Hasson
    Scott Hasson

    As my family now goes to PB or OB, we feel safer for having the alcohol banned on the beach. The PB issues where so bad we never went down there. I bet no one remembers the only guy who put his face on this issue and said enough was Kevin Faulconer. He should be praised for saving our beaches for families and in turn we as residents know he will govern as mayor the same way. We look forward to that kind of level and smart thinking in the mayors office. Kevin your looking more mayoral everyday!!

    Patrick Flynn
    Patrick Flynn

    Yes, the only thing that matters is families. Everything that is not family friendly should be banned entirely. There should not be any places for adults to enjoy being adults. Everyone must conform their lives for the exclusive benefit of families.

    David Millette
    David Millette

    Family empty beaches an the famlies i see sneak beer on the beach

    David Hall
    David Hall

    Keven Faulconer often takes the most simplistic, easy way out. He puts more effort into putting his finger into the wind than asking tough questions and putting forth well thought out solutions. His response to the Labor Day "melee" is a great example.

    David Hall
    David Hall subscriber

    Keven Faulconer often takes the most simplistic, easy way out. He puts more effort into putting his finger into the wind than asking tough questions and putting forth well thought out solutions. His response to the Labor Day "melee" is a great example.

    Ed Harris
    Ed Harris

    “We have an obligation to protect people at the beach, and what happened on the beach was not safe.” I take issue with this quote from Kevin. I was the Lifeguard Sergeant in charge of Pacific Beach the day of the riot. I called for police hours before things got out of hand. The police were understaffed and unable to cover Mission and Pacific Beach. If those causing the problems were pulled out earlier there would not have been a problem. Leading the booze ban was political cover for not supporting public safety. Lifeguards have tried for years to get Kevin to support public safety. It took a marina fire and media pressure to get him to vote on funding for a new fire rescue boat. The boat was funded 18 months ago, but still has not been ordered, so Mission Bay is still not adequately protected. How long does it take? Why is it easier to build a stadium than it is to get a fire rescue boat or to get a caution light at a cross walk. Kevin voted to eliminate police on Mission Bay, layoff lifeguards and eliminate organized training. This is not consistent with his "obligation to protect people at the beach."

    Ed Harris
    Ed Harris subscriber

    “We have an obligation to protect people at the beach, and what happened on the beach was not safe.” I take issue with this quote from Kevin. I was the Lifeguard Sergeant in charge of Pacific Beach the day of the riot. I called for police hours before things got out of hand. The police were understaffed and unable to cover Mission and Pacific Beach. If those causing the problems were pulled out earlier there would not have been a problem. Leading the booze ban was political cover for not supporting public safety. Lifeguards have tried for years to get Kevin to support public safety. It took a marina fire and media pressure to get him to vote on funding for a new fire rescue boat. The boat was funded 18 months ago, but still has not been ordered, so Mission Bay is still not adequately protected. How long does it take? Why is it easier to build a stadium than it is to get a fire rescue boat or to get a caution light at a cross walk. Kevin voted to eliminate police on Mission Bay, layoff lifeguards and eliminate organized training. This is not consistent with his "obligation to protect people at the beach."

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster

    As a San Diego lifeguard and longtime beach resident, I watched the transformation of the beach over many years. As the oceanfront properties gentrified, changing from summer vacation cottages rented by college students in the off-season to high priced real estate, the opportunities for regular beachgoers narrowed. The property owners fought widening of the boardwalk tooth and nail, delaying it for years, even though it was public property and there was an obvious need for more room. They successfully advocated removal of many fire rings (which have not been replaced), since that caused those who are not property owners to congregate in the evening in the public park (the beach) near their homes. They brought about the evening closure of various parks on Mission Bay, like Crown Point Shores. Ultimately, they also tipped the balance in achieving a ban on alcohol on the beach. All of these are restrictions on prior privileges of beachgoers on public property which we all commonly own. To be clear, I arrested people for drunken fights and intervened in various disputes that were exacerbated by alcohol. It was part of my job. Nevertheless, drinking alcohol was a privilege that only a few abused and which was controllable through proper policing (note for example that OMBAC is still allowed the privilege with no serious problems). Mr. Faulconer’s position on this issue is emblematic of how he would likely act as mayor, which is to favor the privileged.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster

    Mr. Bradshaw: I would respectfully encourage you to refrain from casting the thoughtful comments of others as "utter nonsense." With respect to your points, it is my observation that the impetus to ban alcohol at the beach came out of Mr. Faulconer's district, primarily from affluent homeowners near the beach. My reference to, "only a few," might better have been stated that the abusers were a distinct minority. We don't close all the bars in town because some people drink and drive. We assign police to enforce laws in that regard. As Mr. Harris alludes, lack of adequate police resources contributed significantly to these problems. I do remember some of the things you reference. I don't think the reaction was justified to address them. I respect your right to disagree, but I would appreciate it if you could do so more respectfully.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw

    What utter nonsense! First of all, as you must know, Chris, beach residents voted heavily AGAINST the alcohol ban. It was the general public, keenly aware that the beach was a public asset, not the exclusive province of the beach residents, who made it law. Like you, I watched the transformation over the years, and it wasn’t pretty. As more and more beach cities went alcohol free, e.g. Carlsbad, Oceanside and Imperial Beach, San Diego became about the only place you could drink on the sand. Thank you for recognizing that drinking on the beach is a privilege, not a “right”, but when you say it was abused by only a few, you’ve got to be kidding! It became a fiasco. Don’t you remember the piles of trash on the beach every Monday morning? The “ice luges”? The fights? The families that disappeared around noon as the drinking lamp was lit? The seniors afraid to simply take a walk on the boardwalk in late afternoon? The gangs? As for OMBAC, you’re right. But OMBAC’s big annual event is conducted on Fiesta Island, which has a single entry and exit, is easily patrolled and is miles away from the “beach” as most San Diegans define it. There’s no way to “properly police” uncontrolled beach drinking; it was a nightmare for SDPD, particularly on major holidays.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    As a San Diego lifeguard and longtime beach resident, I watched the transformation of the beach over many years. As the oceanfront properties gentrified, changing from summer vacation cottages rented by college students in the off-season to high priced real estate, the opportunities for regular beachgoers narrowed. The property owners fought widening of the boardwalk tooth and nail, delaying it for years, even though it was public property and there was an obvious need for more room. They successfully advocated removal of many fire rings (which have not been replaced), since that caused those who are not property owners to congregate in the evening in the public park (the beach) near their homes. They brought about the evening closure of various parks on Mission Bay, like Crown Point Shores. Ultimately, they also tipped the balance in achieving a ban on alcohol on the beach. All of these are restrictions on prior privileges of beachgoers on public property which we all commonly own. To be clear, I arrested people for drunken fights and intervened in various disputes that were exacerbated by alcohol. It was part of my job. Nevertheless, drinking alcohol was a privilege that only a few abused and which was controllable through proper policing (note for example that OMBAC is still allowed the privilege with no serious problems). Mr. Faulconer’s position on this issue is emblematic of how he would likely act as mayor, which is to favor the privileged.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Mr. Bradshaw: I would respectfully encourage you to refrain from casting the thoughtful comments of others as "utter nonsense." With respect to your points, it is my observation that the impetus to ban alcohol at the beach came out of Mr. Faulconer's district, primarily from affluent homeowners near the beach. My reference to, "only a few," might better have been stated that the abusers were a distinct minority. We don't close all the bars in town because some people drink and drive. We assign police to enforce laws in that regard. As Mr. Harris alludes, lack of adequate police resources contributed significantly to these problems. I do remember some of the things you reference. I don't think the reaction was justified to address them. I respect your right to disagree, but I would appreciate it if you could do so more respectfully.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    What utter nonsense! First of all, as you must know, Chris, beach residents voted heavily AGAINST the alcohol ban. It was the general public, keenly aware that the beach was a public asset, not the exclusive province of the beach residents, who made it law. Like you, I watched the transformation over the years, and it wasn’t pretty. As more and more beach cities went alcohol free, e.g. Carlsbad, Oceanside and Imperial Beach, San Diego became about the only place you could drink on the sand. Thank you for recognizing that drinking on the beach is a privilege, not a “right”, but when you say it was abused by only a few, you’ve got to be kidding! It became a fiasco. Don’t you remember the piles of trash on the beach every Monday morning? The “ice luges”? The fights? The families that disappeared around noon as the drinking lamp was lit? The seniors afraid to simply take a walk on the boardwalk in late afternoon? The gangs? As for OMBAC, you’re right. But OMBAC’s big annual event is conducted on Fiesta Island, which has a single entry and exit, is easily patrolled and is miles away from the “beach” as most San Diegans define it. There’s no way to “properly police” uncontrolled beach drinking; it was a nightmare for SDPD, particularly on major holidays.