City officials estimated that more than 1.2 million people flocked to the beaches over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, about 300,000 more than in 2008. Despite the increase in people celebrating Independence Day on the sand, the amount of trash and number of arrests and rescues were down this year.
On area beaches, misdemeanor alcohol citations doubled from last year. A total of 210 citations were handed out. Although alcohol citations were up, no misdemeanor arrests were made on the beaches. Thirteen felony arrests were made, seven fewer than last year.
“We believe it’s a lot more family-friendly environment and a lot more families,” said Capt. Shelley Zimmerman of the Northern Division. “Those that drew attention to themselves drew attention to themselves in a very family-friendly environment.”
There was one DUI checkpoint over the weekend on Friday, July 3 at 2700 Garnet Ave. at which 13 arrests were made. Zimmerman said police also held saturation patrols throughout the weekend.
In the water, lifeguards made a total of 262 rescues on the beaches of San Diego, 72 fewer than in 2008. There were no reported drownings.
In the La Jolla area, a robbery occurred July 4 at 4:45 a.m. at the Golden Donuts store on 4041 Governor Drive in University City. According to San Diego police, the suspect ordered a cup of coffee in the shop and then brought out a handgun, demanding money from the clerk at gunpoint. The suspect took an undisclosed amount of cash from the register, stole the clerk’s wallet and fled the scene of the crime on foot. No one was injured in the robbery. The suspect remains at large and is described as a 5-foot-6-inch tall, 160-pound white male in his 30s wearing a black shirt and blue shorts.
One incident occurred in the Peninsula over the weekend. On July 4 at 11:15 p.m., a 22-year-old white male stabbed a 28-year-old Hispanic male with a knife in front of 5327 Lotus St. in Ocean Beach. According to police, the victim saw a fight break out in front of the location and attempted to break it up. Upon doing so, he was stabbed twice in the torso and once in the left forearm, resulting in non-life-threatening injuries, and was taken to the hospital. Police arrived on the scene and arrested the suspect.
The Monday after the holiday weekend, Surfrider Foundation held its sixth annual Morning After Mess Cleanup Day at Ocean Beach Pier, Belmont Park in Mission Beach and Pacific Beach Drive in Pacific Beach. Early in the morning, 650 volunteers picked up 2,000 pounds of trash and 24,000 cigarette butts — in total, less trash than last year.
“I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the beach this morning and saw the limited mess that was left behind, compared to some years in the past,” said Bill Hickman, a coordinator for Surfrider’s San Diego chapter. “There was still plenty of work for the volunteers but they were focusing on smaller items than usual.”
Unusual items found in the cleanup included a bra, a car tire and rim, a broken barbecue in some Mission Beach bushes and more than a handful of marshmallows in Ocean Beach.
Hickman said he believes there were many factors behind the decrease in trash.
“There’s more general awareness about keeping the beach clean and I think part of it was the alcohol ban as well,” Hickman said. “There weren’t any beer cans or anything like that out there. There’s still a lot of single-use stuff out there.”
For the fifth year, Clean Beach Coalition put out 72 large cardboard boxes to collect trash and, for the second time, set out 62 cardboard boxes to collect recyclables through Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and Ocean Beach and around Mission Bay to supplement city trash cans. The coalition paid for the boxes and the city maintained them from Thursday through Sunday plus was able to move underutilized boxes to more populous sites if required. Local businesses also sponsored the trash boxes, including Mi Casa, Firehouse Eatery, Lahaina Beach House and Sempra Energy.
“People are now starting to expect the boxes,” said Robert Rynearson, director of Free PB, a local activist group.
The coalition, which includes San Diego Coastkeeper, I Love A Clean San Diego, FreePB.Org and Surfrider Foundation, has supplemented trash pick-up for the past five years.