After Beach Booze Ban, Crime Went Inland

by on July 25, 2011 · 16 comments

in Culture, Ocean Beach, Popular, San Diego

by Keegan Kyle / Voice of San Diego / July 20-24, 2011

Before San Diego banned alcohol from its beaches, Police Chief Bill Lansdowne expressed his opposition to the proposal and issued a warning. The heavy drinkers who amass during summer holidays won’t go away, he said. They’ll move inland, away from beefed up beach patrols, and make it harder for police to monitor crime.

“The group that wants to drink and party will go somewhere else,” Lansdowne said at the time. “On the beach there are no windows to break or fires to start. It’s pretty easy to manage.”

Three years later, crime statistics appear to support Lansdowne’s forecast. Alcohol-related crime fell in beach communities after the ban and climbed elsewhere in San Diego, according to a analysis of police statistics. Citywide, alcohol-related crime continued a rise that started years before the ban.

For the remainder of this article, please go here.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Allen Lewis July 25, 2011 at 2:37 pm

This is so right. The town I know live in is about to loose it’s last dive bar. The people in power think this is a good thing, but as you say ” They’ll move away from beefed up patrols”, heavy drinkers will not go away, I always thought is was a good thing to know where there drinking.


john July 25, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I sure hope people don’t hold policy decisions up to a singular litmus test of “will crime go down?”. If they do maybe they should stay in bed instead of go to work and earn a living, they might get mugged on their way to work or crash their car!
When Prop D was passed all we heard from lifeguards and police was “oh our jobs will be SO much easier without all the drunks and crowds in our way!”
Well ya got your wish, the beach is like a ghost town on all but the hottest summer days, with it the plummeting revenues and now we not only don’t need so many cops and lifeguards, we couldn’t pay you if we did.
San Diego’s #1 industry is tourism, and its number one attraction is the beaches. So as we went full blaze into a depression, we passed an ordinance that in effect shot the city in the foot economically. Got news for ya, people drink, they spend lots of money in your town, hell follow them around, they’ll even drop some here and there. Anyone see a problem? If they’re a little rowdy, great, we have police, we have laws, they can spend a little MORE money.
We need to repeal D, and BTW I don’t drink.


Bill Ray July 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

So in the interim we have people puking on our cars, peeing on them, starting fights in our neighborhood, driving like fools…

There’s far more idiots than there are police. What’s the answer….deputize the citizenry and allow them to duct-tape the more rowdy assholes to a park bench? Sounds kinda like sport!


john July 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Well if that’s your idea of sport I can only wonder why you’re not already in uniform. Iit’s not my thing but I’ve always conceded the unique personality profile of the candidate hired to be put in a patrol car, often alone, and dispatched to unfamiliar buildings in the bad part of town to investigate what went “bump” in the night. Some might even call those predatory tendancies to confront danger that of a sociopath, but I wouldn’t go that far- let’s just say we should feel lucky the Craig Peyers are so few and far between. It’s for that reason I abstain from angel dust before I lead police on a high speed chase for miles, and when I crash the car and they tell me to stay down, I listen. Nightsticks hurt!
ANYway that’s a good point but you’d have to advertise a repeal of the ban to have such an immediate effect, and IIRC you’ve got a faucet more or less at ground zero on the south end of town, I can easily hit the pavement in the dog beach parking lot on the north end with my hose and a nifty “fire nozzle” I scored at the Depot before they only carried the water saver wimpy ones. So we can handle the puking, peeing and fires (At least until they get the permit to demolish my building to build McMansion.4- they put the notice up yesterday).

After that I may have to start drinking again, so I can come back and trash the place.


Kenloc July 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I’m down Billy.Got lotsa duct tape.It isn’t broken,it just lacks duct tape. I guess it applies here as well!


Frank Gormlie July 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm

It also sounds like a late 17th century New England village, you know the kind with public stocks where people would be locked up and people walking around with giant red “A’s” on their chest.


Kenloc July 25, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Whose revenues are plummeting? Liquor stores? That breaks my heart to know that the poor owners of the liquor stores at the beach have taken a bit of a financial hit.I bet revenues are up in bars at the beach,offsetting the cities lost tax revenue.
Lifeguards and police still praise the ban.Ask a local beat cop or the guards at tower 2.
If drunk people are the only tourists that come to the beach then you can keep them.I don’t care much for tourists anyway,especially the drunk kind.I don’t see ghost town beaches anyway.Lots of people on the beach everyday I go,and a huge traffic backup leaving OB toward the end of the day on the 8 east seems to indicate alot of people still come here.Perhaps not as many of them are drunk when leaving.Do you see a bunch of empty businesses in OB?Ask South Beach,Nicks,Shades,The Vine,Natis,etc how much their revenue is down.These places are packed everyday.
If a person can’t have a good time on a beautiful beach in paradise without having a drink in his or her hand perhaps they need to check themselves.If a person decides not to vacation in San Diego because they can’t drink on the beach perhaps they should be vacationing in a treatment program.If a person in Santee doesn’t come here anymore because they can’t drink on the beach,they can keep their drunk butts in Santee.I can’t really see people making vacation plans based on where they can consume alcohol publicly,but I could be wrong.Are there alternative vacation spots in the states where you can get hampstered on the beach?Surely those areas must be booming now that all the drunk tourists have to go there to have fun.


john July 27, 2011 at 2:59 am

You’ve given me so many opportunities of failed logic, where do I start?

First, the implication that everyone who wants to drink alcohol at the beach should be in a treatment program. No, you didn’t just imply this, you said so if it affects their vacation decision.

Secondly the implication that everyone who wishes to consume alcoholic beverages at the beach is rowdy, drunk, or otherwise presents a problem. Most are responsible people who want the freedom to have a glass of wine as they relax in the sun or have a beer or two while they play volleyball. Sure there are problem people but that’s what existing laws are for.

“Whose revenues are plummeting? Liquor stores? That breaks my heart to know that the poor owners of the liquor stores at the beach have taken a bit of a financial hit.”

Those of us with a more tenable grasp on reality know that when people come the beach, they buy food. They eat in restaurants. They fill their cars with gasoline. They rent bicycles and boogie boards. They buy gifts in stores like T-shirts, that in your world probably bear logos like “People go home! It’s so much quieter without you breathing my air!”

All businesses that contribute substantially to public revenues, which unless you’ve been in hiding, are sorely lacking and I think it’s not a stretch to say discouraging people from coming to our beaches has contributed to this.

“Lifeguards and police still praise the ban.Ask a local beat cop or the guards at tower 2.”

That’s your typical civil servant for you, but making their job as stress free and quiet as possible is not in the best interest of the public. I suppose you also subscribe to the philosophy of some retail/service employees who say “My day would be SO much easier without all you damn customers bothering me!”

Which is why I specifically mentioned that. It was stupid to use them as an endorsement for Prop D, sure things got real quiet for them. How’s the economy treating you? Is it healthy enough you can chase away customers in the interest of making things easy? It’s as simple as this, I guess I have to say it again:

San Diego’s number 1 industry is tourism. The number 1 reason they come is our beaches. Why discourage them from coming?

Finally the biggest fallacy of all:

“Ask South Beach,Nicks,Shades,The Vine,Natis,etc how much their revenue is down.These places are packed everyday.”

Sounds to me like you’re just making speculatory assumptions, and quite wrong ones at that. The last of the various operators of Hurricanes at Mission Beach just called it quits, and the city is the holder of the lease. However, why would people drive all the way from Santee to sit in a dark smoky bar when there are plenty of those where they live?

“Do you see a bunch of empty businesses in OB?”

I’ll let any OB business operators look at their books from 5-10 years ago compared to now and answer that.

You really do live in your own little world.


Kenloc July 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm

You are the one who said not being able to drink on the beach affects peoples vacation decisions,not me.”The beach is like a ghost town on all but the hottest summer days”and “we are discouraging them from coming” implies this,does it not?I kind of got the feeling that was the premise of your whole comment.No alcohol,no vacationers acording to you.(though I still see alot of people on the beach.)I didn’t say that everyone on the beach drinking was drunk and rowdy,however I’ll bet the people that refuse to ever go to a beach again because they can’t drink on it were.On to your point about tourists, they still come here dude.In droves.Do you think people in Iowa planning a vacaction are scratching San Diego off the list because they can’t drink on the beach? Probably not .People still drink here in the many places we have for that,right next to the beach.All of the businesses I listed are packed EVERY day.Walk by them,you’ll see. Hurricanes went out?Something will open there I’m sure.Or is it the beginning of the end? Your ” more tenable grasp of reality” is pretty funny.Many businesses are down in the last 5 years due to a recession,not a boozeban. In your world the boozeban ruined OB and every business will be gone in just a few more years because you can’t drink in public.The end is coming!In “my little world” as you call it,it was an improvement.And making things quieter for lifeguards and police IS in the publics best intrest,I don’t see how you can say it isn’t.Or do you wish for more crimes and water related accidents to keep our civil servants busier?If only I can acheive your “more tenable grasp of reality” perhaps I’d see the logic in that statement.I ‘ll keep working on that.Back to my little world now.Peace…..


john July 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Again you’re making plenty of assertions based wholly on speculation. You see DROVES of tourists in OB, you see traffic backed up the I-5 going east every day? I think you’re looking at the hottest Sunday in July at 3 pm. My backyard IS dog beach parking lot, if there was a half dozen cars in it last friday or saturday night that would be padding it a bit. We can hem and haw about what we each see- for the last three years straight you could drive into dog beach parking lot at 7 pm on the 4th of July and have your pick of nearly a dozen spots empty and waiting for you.
I’m sure this is where your mind kicks in and says “that’s FABULOUS! what could be wrong wih that? that means I don’t have to fight a bunch of drunks to see MY fireworks!”
And you won’t see a thing wrong with your own perceptions because you STILL think:
“And making things quieter for lifeguards and police IS in the publics best intrest,I don’t see how you can say it isn’t.”
That hearing employees say “my day would be so much easier without all you damn customers bothering me” is a profitable way to run a business.
What if the beaches were closed period? Does this not make for the most quiet day one could possibly have as a lifeguard or policeman? How on earth does this work in the best interest of the public? Please explain what kind of “OB Spaceman” logic you are using there. These people are employed to staff a public resource which is also being used to generate the revenue which pays them. Finding ways to keep crowds away with a goal of “making their job easier” makes no sense at all, but we’ve had to cut police staffing, have we not? We’ve cut lifeguard staffing, have we not? So obviously the lifeguards and police crowing about how grand it would be once things got quiet are pretty damn bad business managers, I guess they figured they’d get paid to show up and not be needed to write citations, direct traffic, and not have to rescue anyone.
The numbers don’t support any of your assertions, if you feel beach attendence has not drastically dropped since the ban, kindly support that with hard facts, precursory research of overall visitor attendance in San Diego:

Indicate level numbers and even growth, particularly in summer months, throughout the charted years up until a time coinciding with the ban, then slowly tapering then plummeting in the time since. Look at the percentage change from years prior of the summer months after 2008.

The bureau doesn’t want you to know this. Like any promoter, they paint a rosy picture on everything. You’re not starving, things are great!

“Many businesses are down in the last 5 years due to a recession,not a boozeban. ”

How convenient to hide behind that, need I say it again? San Diego’s number one industry is tourism. The number one attraction is our beaches. The City of San Diego is broke- and so is the logic inherent to thinking legislation discouraging people from contributing to that industry as we headed into- excuse me, did you just call this a recession?

What do you do for a living? You don’t have to answer if it’s too personal, but frankly only the disingenuous who are employed in government spin or selling real estate would dare call it that anymore.

Definitions between depression and recession are pretty slim frankly, the government numbers offices will tinker with this or that and as long as those indicators didn’t dip too long, whew, we didn’t have to use the D word. Our bosses’ bosses’ jobs are safe.

It’s a depression and we’re in it for life, jack, this “we want peace and quiet” flies for people with diversified portfolios including real estate and precious metals and offshore holdings. There’s people out here falling through the cracks of a broken social support system every day, maybe all you see are drunks. The unemployment rates are at historic peaks, there’s a thread here about people having a tough time getting work in OB, and what I’m reading through this is let them eat cake. I don’t oppose the ban because I want to drink and get rowdy, I haven’t touched alcohol since around 99 or 2000 nor do I plan to start. I oppose it because shooting yourself in the foot is a bad idea when the whole country is out of bandaids.


Kenloc July 28, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Again,less crime is better for the public good.You keep saying it isn’t because the lifeguards and policemen have less to do and I find that a pretty funny way to think. don’t see how you can compare clerks helping customers to cops arresting bad guys,kind of a different thing.Your argument that the booze ban should be lifted so the cops and lifeguards have more to do is weak and lame.I doubt they are crowing about lost overtime and are praying for a crime wave to get paid as you suggest.I also find it interesting that you keep trying to read my mind,even going so far as to quote what I’m saying to myself in my head.Pretty funny.Let’s stick with reality though,shall we?
Pull a report for the last 5 years in ANY vacation destination and the numbers are off,not just places that banned drinking on the beach.You said I am hiding behind the fact that the recession is to blame for a drop in beach attendance and dispute that fact,and in the next paragraph you call it a depression for life and everyone is hurting and falling through the cracks.(and probably not going on vacation)so which is it? I also don’t see how a booze ban is responsible for people not having a job.I don’t know of anyone who has been let go due to the sudden drop in beach drinking.I would have to check the stats on that one.
In 5 years when all the businesses and the beach are closed due to the boozeban I’ll think back at how right you were.Til then I’m going to the beach with my daughter,then some ice cream! Peace.


john July 29, 2011 at 3:45 am

“Your argument that the booze ban should be lifted so the cops and lifeguards have more to do is weak and lame.”

I respect your learned civility in debate skills to direct insults at my position and not my person, many people can’t grasp that. H0wever if you’re going to do so I’d still request the legitimacy of getting the point right, I am not arguing nor did I state that.
It’s not that I want them busy, I’m saying you cannot approach the overall equation of fully utilizing a public resource like the beaches when it’s our primary asset, by placing primary import merely on those who staff the assets not having to be needed.
If avoidance of crime is job 1, why don’t we close those beaches to all public use? If it’s too much trouble to have to deal with the crowds, why not close the city from june through september? We will reduce crime, the police and life guards can lay in the sun all day and have it to themselves. NO CRIME! WHOOPEE!
Why is this extreme not precisely the same thing when you are saying we shouldn’t care about discouragiung tourists because we can reduce crime? It is PRECISELY as absurd, if we approach this oblivious to the fact that the beaches are a huge draw for the revenue that pays the police and sweeps the streets and keeps the lights on, with the additional reality that those people imbibing beverages will drop far more dollars into the local economy than a little girl and an ice cream cone, the overall picture becomes that of managing a nuisance that is no more absurd than having to get oiut of bed and fight rush hour traffic to work to put food on your table.
We do not have the luxury in this city in this economy to stay in bed with our star wars pajamas with the little plastic feet and have mommy bring us captain crunch and not fight the hassles of traffic, parking downtown and dodging bums to get to our job because it’s just too much hassle to deal with when it’s so much easier to stay home.
It’s so much easier to not have to deal with all the partiers coming to town and wanting to give us money, we don’t need them.
That’s your argument and words can’t describe it since they contribute to our number one industry so deeply and we are so broke.

If that isn’t laughable enough this is:

Til then I’m going to the beach with my daughter,then some ice cream!


john July 29, 2011 at 4:24 am

excuse me, that was premature.

How much did your daughter spend at Ocean Beach and San Diego coastal businesses today?
I suppose you had a wonderful time without all those people getting in your way.
I remember when D was being campaigned, a lady commented in a blog (not here) cackling about how she had a whole stretch of Pacific Beach to herself, that previously would have all kinds of noisy people from east county and elsewhere to spoil the view and tranquility.
This is what I’m reading out of the day at the beach with your daughter. You didn’t say what you did for a living so I’m left to assume you may be retired but more likely have a white collar or upper blue collar position inland you drive to every day- plesase donb’t chastise me if wrong, I’m again left to assume.
You want to come home to Ocean Beach and think it’s swell all that riff raff that used to be down here that you fought traffic against in warm weather to get home, or kept you up with the noise of partying on the sand till 10 pm when your little girl’s lights out time was 8 or 9, now is gone.
This we can assume from your positions. I will not yet lump you with those who wanted not only that, but felt that their million dollar real estate parcels would benefit handily if their streets and alleys were as spotless as La Jolla’s. Those were the folks who bought Prop D into being. Nevertheless, though I haven’t pointed a motivation finger at profiteering, the attitude really smacks of elitism because this community employs so many lower economic tier people in the service, restaurant and retail businesses that are supported by free spending visitors to the beaches. You don’t care, you want quiet clean beaches all to yourself. You think Apple Tree could do fine without selling cases of beer and bags of chips to people from Santee. You don’t seem to care that Apple Tree employs people, you say you don’t know anyone who has been let go due to the sudden drop in beach drinking.
I guess you didn’t know anyone who worked at Hurricane’s. I gave you a perfect example, you pretend it didn’t happen.
I simply posit you picked the wrong beach town to move to, what was wrong with cardiff or solana beach? Ocean Beach was what it was for decades, some people moved here and decided it would be better as
La Jolla south. I can’t gauge your financial status though it’s not the major factor, but your “quiet is best” attitude cuts to the heart of the matter.

The problem was not the partiers, no matter where they were from, OB catered to this younger crowd, those who lived here didn’t mind a little noise and ruckus, businesses thrived and so did the community.

The problem was all you people who moved in our community and wanted to change it to your liking. Didn’t you look around? Did you not see if you couldn’t tolerate a party, it was you that did not belong? Why can’t you and your daughter have your quiet ice cream beach day at one of the many local beach areas that obviously catered to sedate family types before the ban? A handful of “peace and quiet” people financed Prop D for their own interests and changed our community and don’t give a damn that in doing so they pushed out lots of low income people whose livelyhoods depended on local business. You don’t know anyone who lost a job. Are you arguing no one did, or that because you don’t want to know about it it’s not a valid issue- or that you don’t care as long as the beach is what you decided it should be?


Kenloc July 29, 2011 at 10:51 am

Wow! What a response! Seems someone has gotten himself all worked up.Look dude,it’s all a matter of perspective.
We had to wait in line for 15 minutes for icecream=)lots of people on Newport and Southbeach was indeed packed again.I’ve lived here for a long time.I used to throw shoes on the beach with my buds and have beers.Th fact that I can’t actually have a beer in my hand doesn’t keep me off the sand.The boozeban started before my daughters time and I was fine with it then too.We still go to all the bars and restaurants here.I try and buy everything local that I can. We are in Appletree everyother day.We know most of the workers there by name.In fact,we know most of the employees of businesses around here.I live right near Newport and walk it everyday.I honestly don’t see the desolate place that you see,but again I guess it’s a matter of perspective.People still come here to party,all the bars are doing well.So is The Joint and Pizza Port who both recently opened.They obviously have a different view of the economy around here than you do.To answer your question of occupation we both work retail.Biz had been down for a couple of years but has really come bac this year.You’d be amazed how many people are spending money during your depression.To end my comments on this thread( as I can see we just disagree) this was a polarizing issue when it was on the ballot.Very divided issue.I can understand peoples points on the other side of the debate,I just think the pros far outweigh the cons.Yo’d be suprised how many local business owners agree with me.


john July 29, 2011 at 1:06 pm

First in retrospect let me apologize for the “you don’t belong” rhetoric, even though you brushed it off looking at it now it was uncalled for, even if some sentiments stand.
That being said I can see the impasse we’re at strongly involves your continued use of wholly subjective assertions about the state of San Diego and Ocean Beach’s economy, Bar revenues, beach attendence and other figures while never bothering to substantiate them, frankly they are pretty ridiculous. Furthermore resting on assertions like I’d be surprised how many business owners agree with you, or I’d be amazed at how many people are spending money. In your eyes bars “doing well” presumably because when you walked by you saw people inside.The assumption that because the Pizza Port and the Joint opened, and it’s now July 29 in a beach city, that they might close the books in one year’s time posting a profit. You don’t sound like you have much experience in business with that.

I hate to say not one of the above statements is a substantive argument, which you could say of my “people are broke and need jobs” as well-but as we turn toward comparisons of a man and his daughter and their ice cream cones as beachgoers vs two 20 ish couples from Santee hopping down friday night buying a case of beer and food and hitting a campfire, we move toward more tangible comparisons, yet still vague.

I did provide some hard data on tourism figures, attempting to extrapolate beach attendence is hard but looking at summer months helps isolate that figure.
Since neither you nor I are privvy to the bar revenues or local businesses’ books, and one or two would be worthless, dispensing with what you or I remember as representative of a lively beach scene 10, 20 or more years ago (I came in late 83, doing donuts with a beer in my hand at dog beach- I mean on the beach- was really happenin!) leaves us with the only hard irrefutable data available:
Is the City of San Diego meeting its budgetary goals on its revenues, is it providing necessary services to its citizens?
No it’s not, and the city is actually in dire straits this year as it has in the past. It’s broke, the cutting block goes up repeatedly for library services, parks, etc.
The hard numbers of city revenues support not a single assertion you make about your or anyone else’s businesses coming back.

In the interest of providing substance but this should be common knowledge:–20110209,0,4100665.story

Deficit growing, they project improvement in 2-3 years but look farther down- currently running a $564 million deferred maintenance bill that is expected to be at $800 by the time things “improve” in 3 years. That’s our streets, traffic lights, parks. This doesn’t include schools! Which are being slashed to the bone now:

A month ago they announced $114 million in cuts and 700 teacher layoffs.

Now this is the point where you will say “ahh, but you can’t say the ban is the cause of that, we were going broke ANYway so the point is moot”
And now I say it does not matter why we’ve been going broke. We raise revenues or fold the tent up and go home. How would you like to do this, you want to get your checkbook out, in many ways? You want your daughter’s school class size bumped to 60 heads and 4 days a week? Property tax? Sales tax? They’ve already as good as stopped paving the streets if you haven’t noticed, will the next walk to the beach include having to jump out of the way of a car with a broken A arm after hitting those monster potholes on Ebers?
We’ll see how many business owners support doubling that yearly license fee. Sign fee. Or how many will realize what a grand idea it might be if we have people come to San Diego and fill our pockets up for us like the old days and all we have to do is put up with them. Do we sit here in desperation, letting the kids’s classrooms fall to pieces, our streets, libraries go to hell because we like peace and quiet or do we start looking at raising revenues using any means necessary?
You can disagree and though I’d like to I can’t ask you to empty your pockets to pay extra for the peace and quiet you desire.
I do urge anyone who can balance a checkbook to look at the potholes and the crummy education your kid’s getting and the libraries disappearing and the street lamps being shut off on entire streets at a time now (how’s that do your crime stats?) and wake yourself up to the reality we don’t have to suck like this. It’s a ballot measure away, and some time for the people to come down and start giving us the nuisance of having to take their money from them again. It doesn’t close the budget for damn sure but it moves in the right direction, once we return to the mindset that welcoming money to come here is good, lots of possibilities are realized.
And I too have said enough.


Shane Finneran July 26, 2011 at 7:53 am

Nice work by Keegan Kyle at to uncover this story.

Perhaps the best line of his report: “And here’s the big irony: Beach communities such as Ocean Beach that opposed the ban now have less alcohol-related crime while many inland communities that supported it, such as Rancho Bernardo, now have more.”


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