The City of San Diego is trying to sink future "floatilla" events on San Diego waterways by banning anyone in an inner tube from getting inebriated. The raft ragers, sometimes with as many as 6000 partiers, were an effective loophole for those wanting a beer on the beach and the bay and trying to skirt the January 2009 alcohol ban at city beaches.
On Wednesday, June 30, the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services committee, consisting of councilmembers Tony Young, Todd Gloria, Sherri Lightner, and Marti Emerald, will consider an amendment to the municipal code that would prohibit anyone in inner tubes, rafts, on blow-up mattresses, surfboards, surf mats, or paddleboards from drinking booze within one marine league (three nautical miles) from the shoreline. If the amendment is approved at the committee meeting, the item will go to the full city council for a vote.
In a city report issued June 23 to city councilmembers, four floatilla events, including "Innertubapalooza" in August 2009 and "Floatopia Save Our Rights" in May of this year, resulted in 50 water rescues and several trips to the emergency room. The three-page document included passages from the Center for Disease Control and the United States Lifesaving Association that point to the perils of mixing binge drinking and waterways.
Safety was not the only issue presented in the June 23 report. Also included were environmental impacts and added cost to taxpayers. The report indicated that "Floatopia" generated over 600 pounds or eight dumpsters of trash. For the event, park and recreation staff spent six hours cleaning up 2.4 tons of refuse. As for the added cost to taxpayers, the city estimates that the paddle parties cost the Fire-Rescue Department $20,622 to properly staff last year’s two events.
According to the report, the city has information that a new "Floatopia" event is now being planned. If the amendment is adopted, the raft ragers could be banned by August 2010. The meeting starts at 2 p.m. inside the Council Committee room in City Hall.