Alcohol Ban Not the Right Remedy

Continuing America’s fine tradition of repression and denial, the Mission Beach town council successfully petitioned the city government for a temporary ban on drinking on the beaches, lasting through the summer. A counterpetition signed by over 50,000 registered voters was filed Wednesday by people who do not want the beach drinking ban to go into effect.

Now, it’s not like the homeowners in Pacific Beach and Mission Beach are without grounds in their desire to see some restraint on the excess drinking in this area. Although these areas contain less than 5 percent of the city’s population, they account for more than 34 percent of all alcohol-related crimes in the entire city of San Diego, according to Michael Davis of the San Diego Police Department’s vice unit.

Additionally, an oversaturation of liquor licenses, a repercussion of attempts to revitalize the area, have made alcohol a prime source of revenue for business owners. However, with the bars has come a vast increase in alcohol-related crime.

Ten years ago, the Pacific Beach/Garnet area was suffering from a loss in revenue. City officials reacted by relaxing stringent standards for the issue of liquor licenses. This oversaturation, however, made Pacific Beach a well-known drinking area, much like the Gaslamp district.

The oversaturation of liquor licenses brought with it more money from tourists, students and locals, but homeowners in the area were unhappy. Excess drinking meant an increase in crime and vagrancy, which ultimately means lowered property values.

According to a recent article in The Reader, the debate boils down to the residents of Pacific Beach coming to terms with their own identity. A number of different factions, from older residents who resent the presence of the bars, to students and younger residents who want nothing more than to party, are caught in a deadlock over what should be done.

There has been a reprieve of sorts, however. City officials announced, right before the ban was imposed, that groups of 20 or more could pay a small fee for the right to assemble and drink on the beach. This way, by obtaining a license, the drinking could continue, monitored by city police.

What it really boils down to is making people happy. If you look at the issue, it’s not about good versus bad, but rather an attempt to placate puritanical advocates who would attempt to temper any hedonistic behavior on the part of the younger generation.

Were this an issue of good versus evil, city officials would stop drinking in public altogether. It is simply an attempt to impose repressive ideological behaviors on those who do not have the resources to fight it.

Government officials in the United States have a long history of attempting to regulate and ban drugs and alcohol. Everything from prohibition to Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs during the 1980s have proven that increased regulation do nothing but cause the proliferation of illegal activity and unnecessary criminal prosecution. And if that isn’t proof enough for how ineffective over-regulation of drinking and alcohol is, we can look to other countries for evidence as well.

Despite the fact that the United States heavily regulates the sale of alcohol, controlling everything from who can buy, when they can buy it, and who can sell it, we far exceed international rates of alcoholism.

Although there are exceptions, the most addiction-prone countries in Europe tend to have the most restrictive laws. Whether this is a case of cause, where repression causes citizens to act out, or effect, where the effect of high rates of alcohol abuse lead to increased regulation, are not entirely clear.

One thing is true: The current regulations in Pacific Beach will be ineffective in stopping excess drinking in the area. Alcohol will still be sold in the same quantity in bars, restaurants and retail establishments. Drinking in bars, restaurants and private residences will still take place. Realistically, drinking will still take place in public areas. Only now, rather than taking place in the open, it will be covert, hidden from authority.

The proposed advantages to regulating public drinking are already taken care of. We regulate public intoxication and rowdy behavior to the point that the police can harass beach drinkers at their discretion.

The only thing the beach ban will do is decrease the public’s right to drink where they want to drink. It will force subversive behavior, and decrease the effectiveness of police officials. It will also force the police to take on a “”big brother”” role, wasting time that could be spent on real criminal behavior.

We will see a drastic rise in unnecessary criminal prosecution of individuals drinking in public and a decrease in the public’s faith in the police system.

Money that could be spent stopping domestic violence, car and property theft, and violence will be wasted on foolish college students just looking for a good time.

In the end, we are simply seeing another example of government overregulation of personal behavior. This ban is going to waste the time of city officials, law enforcement and Pacific Beach residents while denying normally law-abiding citizens a good time.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2320
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2320
$500
Contributed
Our Goal