Pacific Beach is the only community in San Diego to host a community court. Deputy City Attorney Angela Geisler said the program would not be possible without the leadership of Discover Pacific Beach, the community Business Improvement District.
“You need a strong community partner like Discover Pacific Beach to really take charge of the program,” Geisler said. “Discover PB gets the volunteers and stays in touch with the residents and the businesses.”
Capt. Shelly Zimmerman for the Northern Division called it “neighborhood policing at its best.”
Patrick Finucane lives in Pacific Beach with his fiancée, dog and cat and has served as a volunteer for the community court for two years. He said he was skeptical at first but believes offenders understand the impact of their actions when they consider it in the larger context.
“The crime may not seem that offensive until you multiply it by the millions of visitors that come to the beach,” Finucane said. “It affects the community experience.”
First-time offenders ticketed for misdemeanors like drinking or smoking on the beach can choose to pay $40 to go through the community court and the offense will not appear on their record. The community court is an informal process where offenders speak about their offenses and volunteer community members explain the importance of respecting the neighborhood. The offenders then spend an afternoon volunteering in the community. Once volunteers are trained, they can train as much or as little as they wish.
BACC will host its community court tonight, May 28, from 6-8 p.m. at the at the Pacific Beach Recreation Center, 1405 Diamond St. Call (858) 273-3303.