With all the crises in the world and at home here, the editorial board at the U-T San Diego found it necessary today to wade into the brouhaha between “Over-The-Line” organizers and a social networking group out of Pacific Beach, called FreePB.org . The editorial called the PB group’s effort to hold an even with the exact same conditions that OTL is allowed by the City and police and threatening to go to court “a spiteful maneuver” and begged:
“This is not the kind of dispute that should ever end up in court. We urge Mayor Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith tdo work together to assure that the OTL is not derailed.”
Of course, this is the same Mayor Bob Filner who is vilified daily by the newspaper, its editorial board and political cartoonist.
I would love to find old Union-Tribune editorials from the Eighties and Nineties lambasting OTL for its disgusting naughtiness. There’s plenty of alcohol at the beach these days, anyhow. See the latest Oktoberfest in Ocean Beach and other events where booze is poured constantly – in the paid beer gardens and concerts near the sand.
Here’s Doug Porter’s excellent take on the issue from yesterday’s column at the San Diego Free Press.
Lawsuit Seeks to Shut Down Over The Line’s Boozin Beach Tournament; Preferential Treatment Claimed
By Doug Porter
A non-profit group has filed suit against the City of San Diego, seeking to block approval of a special-event permit for the 60th Annual World Championship Over-The-Line Tournament (OTL), scheduled for two weekends in July.
FreePB.org, a group that in the past opposed the city’s alcohol ban on beaches, is saying that the permit approval process was illegal and therefore null and void until an environmental review is conducted.
Their opposition to the OTL tournament permit was triggered by the city’s rejection of a permit for a beach event called the Leisure Olympics. FreePB asked for many of the same concessions granted to OTL, including exemptions from San Diego’s beach booze ban that would allow for individuals to bring their own alcohol and purchase alcohol from vendors. They also vowed to impose exactly the same “safeguards” promised by OTL.
The SDPD turned down the permit application, saying it was incompatible with the city’s alcohol management policies, and a subsequent appeal by FreePB was unanimously rejected by a City Council committee in April.
Alcohol has been banned at city beaches and waterfront recreation areas since 2008, when voters approved Proposition D. Residents of San Diego’s beachfront communities actually voted against the ban, which was proposed following extensive press coverage of alcohol fueled disturbances in Pacific Beach.
The OTL tournament has been sponsored by the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC) since 1954. It consists of teams competing in a softball-like competition. In past years the event was a booze-fueled beach party, complete with racy team names, random displays of (mostly female) nudity and an ‘old boy’ mentality.
In more recent years the event has toned down considerably. It’s now a “charitable” event that happens to include racy team names. And it’s got plenty of pull downtown. Despite the fact that no actual permit for the OTL event has been issued, the OMBAC has been advertising it for months now. Organizers predict 50,000 competitors and spectators will flock to Fiesta Island.
Supporters of FreePB contend that this toned down atmosphere and insider permit approval process is the result of a deal made between OTL organizers and the political powers (City Councilman Kevin Faulconer is often mentioned) that were pushing for the beach booze ban. They contend that in return for not organizing opposition to Proposition D (the group initially fought the measure when it was at the signature gathering stage), a loophole allowing the tournament was created.
Followers of this theory argue that the political power wielded by OMBAC backers would have been sufficient to defeat the booze ban.
Supporters of the OTL tournament claim that the FreePB folks were involved with the infamous floatopia events, wherein hundreds of (mostly) young people defied the 2008 beach booze ban by partying on rafts and other floatables. These events ceased after the City Council passed additional legislation banning them in 2010.
Of course, OTL supporters have also called FreePB organizers “communists” and “the drunks that caused the alcohol ban” along with being “part of the Facebook crowd”.
FreePB founder (now retired) Nick Sacco described the situation in a comment at UT-San Diego:
To expose this corruption in the city, FreePB.org created an event that was EXACTLY THE SAME AS OTL, but has been denied at every front because of apparent “lacks of safeguards, etc.” that the City continues to refer to. I’ve seen it repeatedly in the video transcripts of these City Council meetings. When everyone asks how OTL happens without the same safeguards in place, nobody with the City can answer honestly. Because they realize that OTL is receiving special privileges based on their closed-door meetings during the alcohol ban fight. Please don’t say it’s because of 50 years of tradition. That’s a fallacy. Laws are laws. If you make restrictive laws, make them right and fair.
FreePB appears to be asking that everyone who requests a special event permit be scrutinized fairly and equally, and that nobody get special privileges for complicity in City corruption. This is the USA, not Mexico or Russia. Blame the City of San Diego for trying to secretly establish a double standard and hoping that nobody would notice. Don’t blame FreePB for asking for fair treatment. They wanted to hold another awesome event just like OTL for everyone to enjoy. If the City could be honest about their treatment of OTL, there would be nothing to worry about.
Double standards? Closed door meetings? City of San Diego? Sound familiar?
This was an excerpt from Doug Porter’s “The Starting Line” at SDFP.