“U-T San Diego” Joins Over-The-Line in Fight Against “Free PB” Group

by on June 18, 2013 · 12 comments

in Culture, Environment, History, Media, Ocean Beach, Politics, San Diego

Fiesta Island googmapU-T Editorial Blasts Pacific Beach Group as “Spiteful” and Urges Filner and Goldsmith to Save OTL

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.

OTL01Supporters 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.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Nick Sacco June 18, 2013 at 11:11 am

While I’m worried that I’m going to get beaten up walking around town for this re-post –I want to reiterate that I’ve been retired from FreePB.org since 2008– I appreciate that this article at shows that there is another side to the coin. If I were still with FreePB.org today, I wouldn’t have gone along with a lawsuit that threatens the very existence of OTL. However, what FreePB did is their move, not mine. As I still care about issues affecting the beach communities, I felt it necessary to at least expose why this happened from my understanding of having watched video transcripts of these City Council meetings, and having watched in 2008 as OMBAC deserted the beach alcohol ban fight at the most critical time. Please don’t mistake that for me supporting this lawsuit. OTL is a great event that I will be attending this year as a spectator. I can tell you that the day the lawsuit was published, I peeled my FreePB.org sticker off of my car.

The spinelessness of the city of San Diego is the root of this issue. That is what is being exposed here.


Jimmy Jimmerino June 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Is it your job to write stupid **** or are you just a ******* *****?

“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.”

Now you don’t want any alcohol “near the sand”. Thanks for the typical neo-prohibitionist stupidity. Your **** **** ** *** ** **** *** ******* ********* **** ******** **** **** ****.

And idiotically relating the Oktoberfest with OTL shows that you have no idea what you’re talking about. The story you paraphrased and then quoted (you are clearly working your ass off!) has to do with FreePB.org, OTL, and the permitting process, so where does the Oktoberfest fit in? Oh, that’s right, your [upset] because someone’s going to have a drink 4 months from now within 1,000 miles of the beach. I guess you figure, compared to that nightmare, the most important part of the story, that one of the biggest events in San Diego happens without a permit, is incidental. ‘Cause alcohol. And drinkin’. And other indescribable horrors that make you [sick]. We’re so fortunate that there’s always some self righteous ******* like you ready to impose their moral limitations on the rest of us.

You can be sure that now when they see you the few people who do not already will point at you and laugh as they should, if any exist.


Frank Gormlie June 19, 2013 at 10:02 am

Jimmy – Not certain to whom you’re addressing your not-so-friendly rant that was filled with so much swearing – that by god! I said, he must feel he’s out at the beach. Did you really expect us to post your comment? Anyhow, we did. We cleaned it up, a bit, but your point is made.

In the midst of your rant, you have totally misinterpreted the slant of either Doug or myself. Nothing either one of us wrote showed any support for a booze beach ban.


donh June 19, 2013 at 4:26 am

I’ve lived in Pacific Beach since 1998. I saw the mayhem at the beaches before 2008. Police were overwhelmed. There is one thin road in and out of Fiesta Island and the geography of it offers much more surveillance and containment of the few that always cause problems when alcohol is allowed. I think FreePB.org is comparing apples and oranges here when you consider the job law enforcement has in protecting the public.


OB,PB resident June 20, 2013 at 11:49 am

apples to apples. FreePB wanted their event on Fiesta Island too.
how is that different? 2 groups applying for a permit. why do you favor 1 group over the other?


Sour Grapes? June 21, 2013 at 9:37 am

Nope, FreePB wanted their event at Crown Point Shores. Directly across from housing and a busy street, with a much tougher area to control. OTL polices itself and SDPD knows that. Their presence is pretty much that, a presence. If the “Leisure Olympics” drew 1/5 of what OTL did on a Saturday keeping the peace at Crown Point could prove to be a bit of a challenge.


smuffy June 19, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I think that people not being able to enjoy life without a beer in their hand is a bigger issue. If folks could go to the beach and act like they have some manners even if they have a couple of drinks in them, that would be great. People don’t act like they have manners after a few drinks. They don’t know when to stop drinking.

It was awful in OB went folks were raging drunk on the beach. They would wander into people yards, puke, steal things, hang out, be jerks, leave trash, and break stuff. There was also the burden of having to make sure the alleys were clear so the ambulances could get through.

PB looks ridiculous lobbying for the right to guzzle booze and act foolish. In my years in OB I have never heard the crime calls at OTL sounding anything like the beach booze calls when booze was legal on the beach.

The core issue is booze drinkers not having respect for themselves, others, or the environment they are visiting. Drinking is out of control in SAN. It’s probably the top money maker.

What OTL has going for them is a history of appropriately managing their rowdy behavior; even after a few drinks.


Morgan June 19, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Oh good lord here come the goody goodies with the often repeated quote “I think that people not being able to enjoy life without a beer in their hand is a bigger issue.” I know, I like to go to the beach on a weekend day with a beer in my hand from time to time and play horse shoes . That makes me such an alcoholic and is a huge issue. Not everyone wants to live the over sanitized life apparently you do, get over it and stop ruining it for the rest of us


OB,PB resident June 20, 2013 at 11:42 am

The issue is 2 groups applying for a permit, 1 being granted and 1 being denied. According to your logic, only groups with history can have a permit, no new groups allowed to have a permit. The other group has never had an official event, so how can you persecute them for all these crimes (drunk, rowdy, trash)? All those drunk people in OB that you’re referring too were not part of a FreePB event.


OB Dude June 19, 2013 at 5:34 pm

If OTL visitors can drink on the beach and on public land then everyone else should be able to drink on the beaches. There should be no exceptions for special events. Make life simple.


Dan Dinkins June 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Umm…what about the Thunder boat races, Breast Cancer Walk, Crew Classic, and the Pacific Islander Festival (just to name a few off the top of my head)??? They all go through similar processes with the city that OMBAC does in order for their events to happen. Drinking is legal at all these events because they are fenced off, have security and safety personnel in place and paid tens of thousands dollars to the city. Is FreePB.org willing to go after every event that ponies up and jumps through numerous hoops to gain the cities approval? These are not special “closed door” privileges.

You want to have your “Leisure Olympics” FreePB? Try working with the city responsibly like these organizations do. Unfortunately for you guys, you basically gave the city a big F U by the garbage you left on the beach after “Floatopia” (I saw it with my own eyes on a morning bike ride the next day, city workers filled up at least 2 or 3 trucks with the garbage you left behind) and the drunkin slip ‘n slide debacle at Kate Sessions park. If I was the city I would deny your permit requests too. Your organization has proven how irresponsible it can be on more than one occasion! OMBAC on the other hand leaves the sand looking better than it was to begin with. Not to mention…well just research all the charitable things they do for so many good causes within our great city.

Though I am confident your childish and frivolous lawsuit will not succeed…it is a shame you would be willing to take it this far. Your organization is single-handidly trying to close what few loopholes are left that occasionally allow us to legally drink on our beaches and parks. Isn’t this completely counter-productive to what your organization is supposed to stand for. SO DISAPPOINTING!


Rob Manley May 29, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Since the PB lawsuit, I no longer support the PB business community!!! I used to live there and have always loved the beach, but that has changed! It’s your right to fight for what you want, but who is paying the price for your misguided childish tactics? The people of San Diego as well as those who plan vacations from out of state, in order to attend OTL!!! Nice mature tactic, ” If we can’t have ours, then you can’t have yours” The only thing missing is NINE NANER


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