Can We Permanently Bury the Idea of a Dog Beach Beer Fest in Ocean Beach?

by on May 3, 2018 · 15 comments

in Ocean Beach

It was just a week ago that we found out the so-called Dog Beach Beer Fest was cancelled. It had been planned for Sunday, April 29.

It had been scheduled from 1 to 5pm and billed as ” a dog-centric event in which human attendees may indulge in unlimited samples of craft beer in our beer garden area” – with “several dog oriented vendors, a dog play area, as well as a DJ.” Called “the first ever Ocean Beach Dog Beach Beer Festival”, it was sponsored by radio station Alt 949, Rockstar Beer, and OB’s very own Hodads.

The city had initially given the go-ahead for the event and the promoters busied themselves with getting the word out and selling tickets (which they did for hours after folks in OB had been notified it had been cancelled). But apparently, by Wednesday morning, April 25, the city pulled the plug. The promoters had a huge list of issues to deal with (like ADA access, parking, etc) – and maybe by some deadline in the sand, they all fell down.

Meanwhile, questions about the event had percolated up from within the community. Why did the City permit this event? was the main query. Some were astonished that the city would have given the go-ahead to sell beer at the very beach where the rest of us cannot drink.

Many other concerns were raised among OBceans about the brewfest on a beach reserved for dogs and their owners. At the risk of creating ire among some, here’s a quick list:

  • Litter / trash / cigarette butts: why would the city allow hundreds, maybe thousands of people onto a beach that sees community clean-ups almost every weekend? Locals clean Dog Beach and the River area all the time, so why would the community allow all the accompanying crap that comes with an event of this nature, one fueled by the ageless drink of beer? Sure, there were plans probably for trash cans and even a clean-up crew, but that’s still not getting it.
  • Noise; the noise and loud sounds from a DJ and hundreds of people would certainly resonate up and down the River valley, disturbing the many birds that flock in the area; not to mention the humans who live nearby.
  • Disturb the sensitive ecological preserve; with possibly hundreds of drunken festival goers and their dogs within yards of the ecological area that is supposed to be protected.
  • No vetting by community groups; this event had no non-commercial community sponsors –
  • Blocking access to the beach for hundreds of OBceans, others and their dogs; the beerfest was to have barriers up right off the berm that separates Dog Beach from the parking lot; that would have meant many people who usually go to and use the area wouldn’t be able to, or they would be restricted. \
  • No Alcohol at the beach: the city can’t have it both ways: the city cannot outlaw alcohol at the beach (I know, it was a public vote) for all of us all the time – and then make exceptions for those who can cough up $30, $40 to get into the “beer garden”. According to an OB leader, other beaches up north of us within the city have not had beer festivals on the sand.
  • Public space encroachment by private-interests; more generally, this is one more example of private-profit encroaching onto public space, and more of the public commons – even the beach – is lost, even if temporarily.

In the days leading up to the fest, this reporter did an informal poll among a hundred OBceans by email. The overwhelming response was one of disgust and of wondering why the city would have allowed it. A number of the responders raised a trend they didn’t like about what was happening to OB.

One thoughtful response:

This is a national event group, not the locals, throwing this thing. Personally, as much as I love craft beer, this is getting out of hand, OB is becoming the place to drink and not much else. Dog Beach is for dogs, that’s why its named Dog Beach.

This event will take over the whole area for a Sunday, the favorite day for people to bring their dogs to the beach and for what? Its a merchandising event, the pup friendly crap is just included to supposedly assuage the angry dog owners. I’m not worried about hops being dangerous for dogs, dog owners should be watching their animals and most dogs don’t like beer.

I’m just very tired of one freaking event after another in OB and until now, at least Dog Beach wasn’t affected. I’d like to know who authorized this event too and why there was no advance discussion with the community about it. A really bad idea.

Another commented:

I think it is a disaster. What could be worse? Drunken owners and helpless dogs! I am an animal lover and advocate. Can this be stopped?

This OBcean was very direct:

I think it is f*cking stupid. OB is turning into a completely alcohol based economy. It did not work out so well for the residents of PB.

And now they want to mix drunks and dogs – what could possibly go wrong? Dog beach is / was the last sanctuary of sanity left in OB. The beaches are completely sold off to surf schools, the sidewalks littered with rental bikes and now lets turn Dog Beach into another drunk fest.

That is how this 69 year old resident thinks. People want to see the near future of OB – just ride through MB and PB – too late to stop it now.

Here’s someone who was more open to the event:

Sounds interesting but I’ll be out of town so I can’t attend – not that I would anyway. I hope it works out well but it seems like on almost any weekend there is a beerfest somewhere in San Diego County. I assume there will be lots of security and drunks will be asked to leave. I think it should be fine. Uber should do well.

Others hadn’t heard about it and now questioned it:

I am not aware of this event. Curious to know if/how this is permitted and how the area will be fenced off to allow only ticketed guests.


This is the first we have heard of this. Who is sponsoring this?  Seems bizarre to me to have this at the beach.

One summed it up:

The premise sounds kind of dumb and half-assedly thrown together. When I saw this initially a week or so ago it looked like a weak lineup, both vendor-wise and with regard to the music lineup. I also wonder how they got the permits to pull this thing together, how much of the beach it’s going to occupy, and how it’ll affect regular beach visitors who aren’t paying $40 to visit their public outdoor space.

With all the concerns and issues raised, from trash, noise, disruption of the eco-system, no local vetting, blocking public access, encroachment, and breaking the law against alcohol on the beach, can we finally, permanently,

Bury the idea of a Dog Beach beer fest?



{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

william Dorsett May 4, 2018 at 9:00 am

Public space encroachment: isn’t that what any street fair is? For example the Ocean Beach Chili Cook off.


kh May 4, 2018 at 11:00 am

So I take it you will you be advocating against Oktoberfest and the street fair now? Why not support a process which allows these things to happen with due dilligence, rather than blanket bans?

I seem to recall this paper leaning against the alcohol ban, and against the marshmallow ban.

The reason people were opposed to this event because the advertising looked a little to PB broheme for their tastes. The rest of the reasons were just piled on there to try and justify that predisposition.

FYI, OBMA did discuss this in advance and the event promoter said they were on board.


Frank Gormlie May 4, 2018 at 11:55 am

At least now there is some discussion. You don’t see any differences between Okto and the street fair? Neither one have booze on the beach (parking lot, sure) – plus they’re both traditions; this Dog Beach gambit was trying to start an entire series of “yearly”gigs. With no public discussion. No obvious community benefit.


OBKid May 4, 2018 at 1:26 pm

Remember when OB was fun and rowdy? Remember the block parties? the bonfire parties? Man those were fun times…rents were cheap, people didn’t whine…man that was only 5 years ago – what happened?? people are turning into Del mar/La jolla style NIMBYISM. Stop please, just stop.

Items for OBCean:

1) “one freaking event after another in OB ” – what events? besides the 4 big ones (oktoberfest, street fair, etc.)

2) The beaches are completely sold off to surf schools – really the two that operate with little more than a sign and some surgboards?

3)the sidewalks littered with rental bikes – where and what? that’s flase

4) now lets turn Dog Beach into another drunk fest – where are these drunk fests? sounds fun


Frank Gormlie May 4, 2018 at 3:02 pm
OBKid May 4, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Thanks Frank…when I moved here at the turn of the century – 2000 – very much still like this ….rowdy/anti-authoritarian/family/fun.

Now it’s filling up with Rich NIMBY’s and STVRs faster than anyone could imagine.


Dave May 5, 2018 at 12:12 pm

I hear that – in the early 2000s (pre-alcohol ban on the beach, rents were high but not insane) I remember getting my whole apartment complex together to throw parties every few months – half the block would show up, you’d meet your neighbors over a brew, and for some reason cops and no-fun Nancys never seemed to be an issue. There was another apartment up the street that did the same thing, and another a couple blocks down. Head down to the fire pits any night and you’d be sure to meet some interesting characters.

By the time I left in 2015 (wow, it’s been almost 3 years now), half my complex was converted to vacation rentals (as my place was when I got the boot), that other complex had been converted into overpriced condos, and maybe I was just too old to party but I don’t remember the neighborhood rocking nearly as much. Sad.

On topic, I guess my beef with the Dog Beach event, beyond the poor planning, is that it takes public space for a private event. When people mention the street fair, Oktoberfest, or other longstanding events, they’re talking about things that are open to the whole community. Is the pier parking lot blocked off for people willing to pay a nominal fee to drink beer? Sure – but there’s also stuff going on outside the walled garden that you can check out for free, if you’re so inclined. The event in question seems to take a public space and convert it to private use, without offering anything to the community that isn’t willing to pay a much-more-than-nominal fee aside from lack of access to the beach.


Debbie May 4, 2018 at 3:03 pm

OB does not need any “events”….enjoy your friends, neighbors, family and have a backyard picnic or BBQ. Whoever came up with the drunk fest stop inviting all of rest of the world to OB so you can make money. If the OBMA supported this they need their head examined. If Hodads wants to support something write a check since your restaurant surely makes enough money and that goes for the other list sponsors whoever they are/were.

Can all the events they just flood the place with drunks, cars and noise ENOUGH!


OBKid May 4, 2018 at 3:40 pm

Hey Debbie – OB is a crown jewel of San Diego…why would there not be events here? What a great way to show off our ‘hood and celebrate with the community.

“backyard picnic”?? haha – who has a backyard anymore?

Where are all these drunks and noise? I must be missing something living in the heart of OB…what do you hear and see up in those Cliffs??


Debbie May 4, 2018 at 9:43 pm

No comment


Sam May 4, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Wow, the PC fun police are taking over.


Doug Blackwood May 4, 2018 at 9:23 pm

The event at the beach, is the OCEAN!
There’s a reason why alcohol was banned from from the beach, & the OB Street fair was shortened to 1 day: uncontrollable mayhem.
Look at the beach tomorrow, beach goers may provide a clue.
There are too many organized events already: most residents don’t want another PB.
Enjoy the natural elements while you still can!


nostalgic May 5, 2018 at 5:42 pm

Municipal code 56.54 addresses “Alcoholic Beverage Consumption Prohibited in Certain Areas.” A small quote: “It is unlawful for any person to consume any alcoholic beverage at any time upon all public beaches…including adjacent coastal public parks.” The list includes Ocean Beach Park and Mission Bay Park (also Sunset Cliffs Natural Park). Perhaps Dog Beach is a part of Ocean Beach Park or Mission Bay Park.
Or perhaps not. However, it seems that the city can still issue special events permits in those locations.


triggerfinger May 5, 2018 at 6:28 pm

Every special event permit with alcohol is on public land where drinking isn’t allowed otherwise. That’s the entire point of the permit.


OB Dude May 6, 2018 at 7:25 am

Rockstar needs to stay in Vegas…how and why did Hodads support this?


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