Deadline approaches to overturn beach ban
by SEBASTIAN RUIZ
Jan 02, 2008 | 547 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The final hour is approaching for the deadline to submit the 30,209 signatures needed to repeal the temporary alcohol ban on all city beaches and Mission Bay Park signed into law Dec. 5, 2007.

For the last month, signature gatherers have been hitting the pavement at football games, bars, grocery stores and coffee shops trying to get enough signatures to put a hold on the ban until the signatures are verified and the law is put to a citywide vote in November, Ann Kelsey, an organizer with BantheBan3.org, said.

The group is the principal group involved in the signature gathering campaign and has gained the support of San Diego County Young Democrats and the UCSD Graduate Student Association. They plan to hand in the pages of signatures to the city clerk on Friday, Jan 4., she said.

"We're definitely cautiously optimistic that we're on target with the signatures," Kelsey said.

In a last-stand effort to gather enough signatures, organizers with Freepb.org, a group advocating responsible alcohol consumption, will host a signature gathering party at the stretch of beach near Reed Street Thursday, Jan. 3, from 3 to 8 p.m., according to an email circulated from the group.

The beach at the end of Reed Street happens to be the site where a melee involving several hundred people broke out on Labor Day. Labor Day is one of the major holidays that bring hundreds of thousands of people to San Diego beaches.

The brawl, which was broadcast on television news programs around the country, spurred Councilman Kevin Faulconer to push for the one-year temporary ban. The City Council voted 5-2 Nov. 5 to adopt the resolution. Should the resolution hold up, the council would revisit the issue in 2009, according to city documents.

All residents would need, however, is that one-year temporary ban to prove the beach is better without alcohol, said Jerry Hall, an organizer with Safebeaches.org and a beach resident.

"We've seen what alcohol on the beach has done; let's see what happens without it," he said.

If the ban stays afloat, police have said they would expect to see a reduction in alcohol-related crime on the beach, including public urination, alcohol-related violence and underage drinking on the beach.

"All we're asking for is a one-year trial, and then a year from now that's the time to measure things," Hall said.

Beach-area residents have taken the brunt of the cumulative effects of allowing alcohol on the beach affecting their quality of life, Hall said.

Jeremy Malecha, board member and co-founder of Freepb.org, said that the legislation is expansive and overreaching,

Malecha said that he would like to see changes to the legislation that acknowledge the problems but also focus on specific solutions rather than a ban, such as more restrooms and more enforcement on targeted problem areas along the beach.

"What are our qualifications? What do we view as a success? What do we view as a failure? And its important that we have that outline before we go into this temporary legislation," he said.

Malecha added that the city's voters have spoken on this issue in the past and rejected it. In November 2002, the city voted against Prop G by a slim margin. The legislation would have created alcohol-free zones along portions of the beach.

For more information on the two groups, visit www.savepb.org and www.freepb.org.

To contact Councilman Kevin Faulconer's office, call (619) 236-6622.
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