Beach Booze Ban Catapults Nov. 4 into the History Books

    Nov. 4 is a day that will be remembered in the United States forever. A day that changed our nation as much as the Civil War, Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11 combined. A day that changed the lives of Americans in ways that will reverberate through subsequent generations as much as any event in our young nation’s history. And while citizens of both the United States and the world will feel the effects of the change that has taken place in America on this day, San Diegans will shoulder the burden in a much more tangible way. Because, as of last week, it is no longer legal to consume alcohol on the beaches of San Diego County.

    That’s right — Proposition D passed with flying colors, making it illegal to enjoy an adult beverage while the tide rolls up and tickles your feet as you lounge in a comfy beach chair. No longer can the good people of San Diego drink beer and attempt to play various drinking games such as horseshoes and bocce ball, all the while enjoying the pristine weather that we of Southern California are continually blessed with. There are many who said that Election Day 2008 was a great victory for civil rights — the culmination of years of struggle and perseverance against oppression and prejudice. And while some may feel liberated, I feel trapped. Trapped in a world where I cannot imbibe the beverage of my choice in a neighborhood where I pay extra rent to live near the beach.

    The long, heated battle over beach drinking came to a head on Labor Day 2007 in the bustling enclave of Pacific Beach. Some revelers who apparently had a few too many started a fight, bottles were thrown and chaos ensued. With the drunken masses temporarily crazed, police and riot teams stepped in with batons in hand to try and calm the raging crowds. Now legendary YouTube videos show how many of the offenders had little regard for the policemen, attempting to attack them as though they were part of the holiday festivities. By the time it was all over, more than a dozen people were arrested and the drinking landscape had shifted forever.
    The San Diego City Council moved to temporarily ban drinking on San Diego beaches until the issue could be brought to a vote through a referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot. That referendum was named Proposition D and soon after its introduction, the lawns of beachside homes were dotted with both “Yes on D” and “No on D” signs. Web sites were created and press conferences were held. It was obvious that this ban wasn’t going to go through without a fight as both sides sought to maximize their political maneuvering to secure victory.

    As a proud resident of Pacific Beach, I awoke that Tuesday with great anxiety and profound concern that the lifestyle I had come to enjoy would soon be a thing of the past. Sure, there were other important measures on the ballot concerning things like animal cruelty and gay rights, but this was beach drinking we were talking about, an invaluable civil liberty that has given me profound joy many a time. An inalienable right that the Founding Fathers just happened to leave out of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in their hurry to get the thing passed. As the results rolled in, it was clear that Proposition D would pass. The atmosphere at the local watering hole that night was somber as people could no longer look forward to a weekend filled with sunbathing and mojitos. Just another group of victims of this thing we call a democracy.

    As the shockwave of Proposition D has subsided I have begun to accept the decision that was made by the people of San Diego. As a student of politics, I understand that legislation is one thing and oversight is another. It will take a decent amount of creativity to shirk the ban — gigantic margaritas in soccer-mom sized thermoses are a good place to start, I think. But while others rejoice, I will always remember Nov. 4 as the day I lost something. A day when a little part of me went cold. The days of freely drinking on the beach may be gone, but the memory of better days will live on in our hearts forever.

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