A proposed change from Kate Sessions Park’s 12-hour alcohol ban to a 24-hour alcohol ban was on the Santa Clara/Pacific Beach Recreation Council’s agenda on Tuesday, January 19.
Some of the reasons given for the proposition included: public urination, binge drinking, dogs off leashes, noise, broken glass, and drunk drivers. Presentations were made by both supporting and opposing parties.
Richard Kiser, president of Friends of Kate Sessions, said, “We’re here because of unintended consequences of Proposition D; 26 miles of shoreline have been reduced to 17 acres of legal area for drinking.”
Kiser addressed the park’s inability to handle the volume of visitors it regularly attracts: “There are 140 parking spaces inside the park. About 300 permits are issued daily. On weekends, 600 to 1000 people are using it.”
An eight-year resident named Mike said, “The facility can’t handle something like over-the-line every weekend. There are fraternity guys running around in wigs and skirts. It’s unpoliced bedlam as a direct result of the ban. I think Kate Sessions would turn over in her grave if she saw how the park was being used.”
One resident claimed that 65 calls were placed to the SDPD between August and December of 2009. It was stated that the police don’t have the manpower to handle park-related calls and that response times can range from one-and-a-half to three hours.
Those opposed to the ban argued their right to have a beer on a blanket while watching the sunset, in addition to their right to have office picnics, weddings, and other responsible parties. Some did not feel the issue should be in the hands of the Santa Clara/PB Park and Recreation Department.
While many disagreed about the imposition of a 24-hour ban, most agreed that taking alcohol off the beaches caused this problem and that taking alcohol out of the park will cause yet another. The consensus was that a designated, and perhaps monitored, alternative area for responsible public drinking is necessary.
According to a Friends of Kate Sessions Park handout provided during the meeting, in San Diego County there are 174 community and neighborhood parks; 153 have a 24-hour alcohol ban. The council voted to recommend the ban.