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Call it an 'anti-pub crawl' or 'bar-stopping'. A group of residents in North Park will gather on Friday evening to walk in protest to the number of alcohol licenses issued to businesses in their community. The protest will be the first of two rallies, the other will take place in Pacific Beach the following week.

Last year, denizens from North Park and Pacific Beach banded together to draw attention to what they say is Alcohol and Beverage Control's (ABC) unbridled policy in issuing alcohol permits, especially to the business districts they say are already saturated with bars and restaurants.

"[Alcohol and Beverage Control's] licensing policy is harming communities. San Diego is the DUI capital of the USA with highest DUI rate in the nation 2 years in a row," reads the flier announcing the walk, which will begin at 5:30pm outside of Birch North park Theater on University Avenue.

One week later, the residents plan to move their protest to Pacific Beach for a walk along Garnet Avenue's bustling entertainment district.

"[Pacific Beach] consistently has the highest rate of violent crime and [North Park] falls just barely behind. [Pacific Beach] has the highest rate of alcohol-related crime and general crime and is top or near the top in nearly all crime categories. This crime is centered around the business district where more and more restaurants are functioning like bars and more and more alcohol licenses are being issued, modified or expanded each year.

In addition to what they feel is a permit-happy Alcohol and Beverage Control board, the group also lays blame on SDPD's Vice unit, as well as city councilmembers Todd Gloria and Kevin Faulconer, who represent both North Park and Pacific Beach.

"The Alcohol Beverage Control, SDPD vice, and city officials are part of the problem. The police work for the mayor and the mayor and city councilmen are ignoring the problem... and have become part of the problem themselves by endorsing new alcohol licenses, expansions of bar-like restaurants, and modifications to allow serving more alcohol, harder alcohol (not just beer and wine), and for longer hours.

"Without effective regulation, public health, and safety policies that proactively address culture of over-consumption and over-serving by bars and bar-like restaurants, we are creating an atmosphere that results in crime, disturbances, violence, vandalism, [and] injury..."

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Comments

InOmbra Jan. 19, 2012 @ 9:50 a.m.

In a Jan 6 2012 article, the New York Times listed 45 places to go in 2012. San Diego showed up on the list. The reason (an embarrassment): SD is the go-to place to drink beer. This isn't an accident: the city's Economic Development department and its business group sycophants spend a lot of time and taxpayer money marketing drinking as a lifestyle. It's all about business revenue.

The article actually mentioned seedy Hamilton's Tavern, a nuisance bar right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Many local residents have suffered the presence of this bar and its customers. The photo showed three grubby guys inside Hamilton's, hovering over an iPhone...texting? tweeting? Foursquare? ..."we're here, we're drunk!" Too bad there wasn't a photo showing the lines of obnoxious customers out on the sidewalk, waiting to get into the hole in the wall.

I'm glad the plan by a local business guy, for a North Park/South Park beer shuttle to haul drinkers from bar to bar for hours on end, failed. Enough is enough.

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northparkrick Jan. 20, 2012 @ 12:22 a.m.

Well, Dorian, you got it almost right---but I guess without ruffling some feathers of those with a different take on the situation, any news story would be kinds boring, huh?

just a few corrections and clarifications:

  1. NOWHERE and at NO TIME were Kevin Faulconer or Todd Gloria specifically 'blamed' for the situation we find our communities in-it is lack of city POLICY, and especially lack of any effort to establish one (by ALL city officials), that has allowed ABC to oversaturate some census tracts with liquor licenses by 200% up to nearly 1000%.

  2. Vice is only mentioned because of their inconsistent recommendations for license approvals within the same census tracts.

  3. Everybody involved in these rallies/walks fully supports a vibrant commercial district, including restaurants. Nobody has claimed that there is an oversaturation of restaurants. Hey, the more restaurants, the better! Great food establishments is one of the things that is breathing new life into North Park. But if you are licensed by ABC as a restaurant, or applying for a new liquor license as restaurant, then BE a Restaurant. If you want to be a bar, then apply for the appropriate license, and give the public a chance to weigh in on it. (Be honest--how many people are really out at 1:00 am sitting down to a meal? Blotter food, maybe, but not fine dining!)

This is exactly why we fully embrace venues like the recently opened Wang's, and the soon to open Casa de Luz--the both will serve alcohol, but it is not paramount to their exisrtence. They, and a host of others act responsibly. They act like restaurants, not as thinly disguised drinking venues. And hmmmmmmm--they close by midnight or earlier, and are still successful!

Hopefully, the fact the North Park Rally and Walk will not pinpoint any problem alcohol venues will be evident. Our focus is on the root of the problem; lack of local control over the State run ABC. They are an agency that monitors itself, governs itself, and disregards virtually all imput from the local community. Look at the statistics and data: they show that ABC, in fact, does not even following its own mission statement. The result is a community where alcohol is becoming the prevailing draw, and party bars are becoming the economic base. Is that really what you want for your community?

Our goal: to raise awareness of the community, SDPD, and any and all City officials to the very real problem, and solve it by enacting a Land Use Policy that gives LOCAL control over alcohol licensing.

Every other major California City has done just that--it's time for us to do the same.

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InOmbra Jan. 20, 2012 @ 9:51 a.m.

Not quite sure what you think the author wrote that was only "almost right"...in order to avoid, as you put it, being "boring, huh?" Almost the entire report consists of direct quotes. Not boring to me...

Whatever. To your point about restaurants: most restaurants in NP/SP/PB can't make a big profit w/o selling alcohol; a large part of their profit/revenue comes from the bar. A lot, if not most, of the emphasis in the promotion and advertising of these neighborhood restaurants is on alcohol. "Pairings" is mainly about the booze. It's not just the ABC's fault: Gloria and Faulconer are indeed part of the problem, being totally in the thrall of the business associations. These restaurants, even in residential areas, push hard to stay open till 2 a.m. ABC doesn't decide that, does it? Councilmembers, City staffers, and Planning Commission members support giving restaurants bar-closing hours, despite what local residents want and long after dinner hour is over. Without strong pro-resident policy by the City and the Councilmembers, the restaurant-bars usually get whatever they want.

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northparkrick Jan. 20, 2012 @ 1:11 p.m.

Hey, InOmbra, we're on the same team page regarding the City's faulty policies and enforcement. I just wanted to clarify that not everything Mr. Hargrove stated was a quote from the Rally organizers or handouts. The 3 numbered points I made were pointing out and correcting the specific discrepancies. I'm not even disagreeing with what he said, just that it wasn't completely accurate reporting. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that any opposing point of view will pick up on any of these points and use them to discredit organizers and supportersor paint them as fanatics. Yes, Gloria and Faulconer are a part of the problem, but no more so than the rest of the City Council.

Restaurants indeed depend on alcohol as a major part of their revenue. I like a cocktail, or glass of wine or beer with my meal as much as anybody, and do not advocate for no liquor at restaurants, and would fight for their right to serve it. But read my point again and then take a close look at the restaurants in North Park. It is quite evident which ones morph into full-on bars after 10:00 or 11:00 at night. And it is blatantly clear when a restaurant that has for years closed at those hours, or even midnight-- suddenly applies to ABC for a change in license from A TYPE 41 LICENSE to a TYPE 47 LICENSE, and applies for change of operating hours until 2:00 am that they are changing the focus of their business from a restaurant to a drinking establishment, at least during the extended hours. And for your clarification, YES, ABC certainly DOES decide hours of alcohol serving of its licensees. The hours of business operation can be mandated by local City Code, but in an area where there is no LOCAL CONTROL over SERVING hours, NUMBER of alcohol licenses allowed, TYPE of alcohol licenses allowed, and CHANGES to existing licenses, ABC can literally do whatever it wants, simply by adding "conditions" that make it OK. Conditions that they then do not enforce.

This is EXACTLY what this Rally & Walk is all about--raising the awareness of the community to all of this, and telling the 'powers that be' that local control is the only way to deal with ABC. That way the residents of San Diego have a say in what the alcohol policy is for their comunity. If the residents want a liquor license in every storefront, then so be it, but shouldn't we at least have the chance to decide that for ourselves?

Your last line "Without strong pro-resident policy by the City and the Councilmembers, the restaurant-bars usually get whatever they want" could not be more true. And our 'Strong Mayor' system adds yet another hurdle to all of that. But unless residents TELL them 'this is what we want', it will never happen. And keep in mind, it is an election year, and those representatives work for US---the ones that elect them.

Hence, the Rally and Walk tonight---to tell them just that.

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escortalex Jan. 20, 2012 @ 11:21 p.m.

"Almost the entire report consists of direct quotes" ALMOST...The next-to-last paragraph looks like a quote, but didn't come from anyone associated with this event, or from the event flyer. Overall, an informative blog post except for that random paragraph. Without attribution, it looks like the statement came from the walk organizers...but it did not.

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Dorian Hargrove Jan. 23, 2012 @ 10:03 a.m.

Those quotes in question were from a "North Park Rally Email," something sent to me by one of the event organizers. I should have clarified.

Thanks.

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Founder Jan. 20, 2012 @ 9:21 a.m.

TO BE VERY CLEAR...

North Park and Pacific Beach residents are being "slammed' by establishments that are over serving in order to make BIG PROFITS for their Owners!

That business model has been affecting the quality of life in our neighborhoods and despite repeated meeting with those that are in charge of monitoring these Businesses; little has been done to date!

How many DUI's and or additional crime stats will it take to get the City Council and or the Mayor to effect true change instead of just looking the other way?

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escortalex Jan. 20, 2012 @ 11:24 p.m.

Yupper.
Just watched the Channel 10 report on the walk. It ended with the ABC saying it's up to the city to say when "enough is enough." The ABC's not going to stop issuing licenses, and our local ABC office doesn't have the resources to regulate all of them. The ball's in your court, city council.

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Ponzi Jan. 20, 2012 @ 9:42 a.m.

The drift in policy is evident over the past 30 years. It was once difficult and a privilege to be licensed by the ABC. Now it’s a revenue generator for the State. Just like the DUI’s are revenue generators for the city and county.

I agree that an ABC license moratorium is long past due for Pacific Beach and North Park. I don’t imagine how fewer bars will affect the number of DUI’s. It would seem that irresponsible drinkers will just migrate to the remaining bars. Driving intoxicated is a behavior that is not necessarily modified by fewer bars.

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InOmbra Jan. 20, 2012 @ 9:59 a.m.

Easy to see how many/where the DUIs and other alcohol-related problems occur: enter any zip code in the search bar here: http://web.utsandiego.com/crime/?q=san+diego

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Ponzi Jan. 20, 2012 @ 10:13 a.m.

I understand that there will be more DUI’s where there are more bars. But there are more bars, because there are enough customers so support them. DUI statistics are also shaped by the enforcement policy. There very well are many DUI’s in NP and PB. However, if there were more enforcement at say the end of a game at Petco Park or Qualcomm stadium, then the new hot spots for DUI’s would be in the East Village and Mission Valley. The police are going to go where their leadership directs them to go.

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escortalex Jan. 20, 2012 @ 10:56 p.m.

Ponzi, there are regular enforcement operations after sporting events at Qualcomm..and they net a tiny fraction of similar operations in PB.
Police carefully examine the results of operations all over the city. The locations that produce the most DUI arrests per officer-hour are the ones where more resources are assigned in the future. The police brass doesn't just throw darts at a map.
The PD picks a few locations at random..but mostly, the location of focused DUI enforcement operations is determined by the number of arrests made. The police are going to go where the most DUIs occur; these decisions are driven by data, not whimsy.
The only exception was when bar owners in PB put pressure on city hall..and politicians told the cops not to do checkpoints in PB...and when it became public, the orders from city hall disappeared. It happened last summer..Google it to find out more, it was pretty well documented in the medial. BTW, East Village IS a hotspot for enforcement actions AND DUI arrests; #2 in the city, behind PB. East Village has about 150 duis a year..PB, more than 500.
If you had a limited amount of money to get the most drunk drivers off the street...where you gonna do the bulk of your enforcement? And since many DUI enforcements are funded by grants...and the more drunks you catch, the better your chance of getting another grant....think about it.

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escortalex Jan. 20, 2012 @ 2:21 p.m.

"It would seem that irresponsible drinkers will just migrate to the remaining bars."
Ponzi, this is how the alcohol industry thinks: It's up to each person to make sure we drink responsibly. They sorta skip right past the part where it's illegal to serve someone past the point of intoxication. The bar bears legal responsibility for that.
Many bars do act responsibly, but it only takes a few bad businesses to wreak havoc on a community.

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suedinette Jan. 20, 2012 @ 9:44 a.m.

Hamilton's a seedy bar? I beg to differ. It was one of the first to put San Diego on the craft beer map, and they are very sucessful. Also, the beer bus did not fail, it still runs once a month. Beer is good for San Diego tourism, and it is not going away.

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InOmbra Jan. 20, 2012 @ 10:07 a.m.

Why any tourist would want to go there, I cannot imagine. Glad you like it. Promoting residential neighborhoods as tourist destinations is exactly the problem that our money-hungry/business-is-supreme City (council and departments) is causing.

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Ponzi Jan. 20, 2012 @ 10:38 a.m.

There’s all kinds of tourism. Ecotourism, sex tourism, medical tourism, even death tourism. But just like taking a tour through wine country, some people may enjoy dive bar tourism.

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escortalex Jan. 20, 2012 @ 1:46 p.m.

"Beer is good for San Diego tourism, and it is not going away." Right on both counts, sue... Please go back and read the blog again, though, because you missed the point. This isn't about beer, or wine, or cocktails.
It's about crime.
PB and North Park lead the city in violent crime. Much of that crime is perpertrated by or on drunks. The drunks are created when bars illegally overserve their patrons. The illegal overservice is at the heart of the matter; it's illegal, but no one is enforcing those laws. This isn't remotely about the San Diego's blossoming craft beer industry, which is good for tourism and for locals, too. This is about establishing control over irresponsible, parasitic businesses that break the law, creating law enforcement problems which in turn drive tourists away.
You were probably misled by the opening line: "Call it an 'anti-pub crawl' or 'bar-stopping'." Not anti-pub, we're anti-crime. Nobody wants to shut down any bars, we just want existing laws enforced...because we have too much crime, due to non-existant enforcement. It's the state's job to regulate alcohol licenses, and until the ABC is capable of doing that, the ABC should stop issuing licenses in areas that, by law, already have too many.

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escortalex Jan. 20, 2012 @ 1:28 p.m.

"Driving intoxicated is a behavior that is not necessarily modified by fewer bars." Actually, it is. In San Diego, the areas with the most DUIs (PB, Gaslamp, other downtown areas) have the most DUIs. Further, research shows that areas that are saturated with bars generate more DUIs...not just here, but everywhere. Hence the state laws limiting the number of licenses that should be granted in a given area. Problem is, the ABC itself flouts the law, issuing more licenses than allowed, because issuing licenses is now the ABC generates revenue. On the back end, though, the enforcement arm of the ABC lacks the resources to regulate these licensees. Each investigator has more than 800 alcohol licenses to monitor, and even when they catch an irresponsible operator in the act, there is little or no punishment for it. Revoke a license for overservice? Hah. That virtually never happens. The real solution is for San Diego to do what other cities have done; use their powers to regulate land use (conditional use permit). If a bar is caught overserving, the city can yank its permit...and the ABC can then suspend or revoke the license.

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northparkrick Jan. 20, 2012 @ 2:59 p.m.

Well said again!
It amazes me that there are people that thnk that any business that generates jobs and revenue for the community is good business. Everybody wants a vibrant, diverse, and lively community, be it North Park, PB, or wherever--including me. Does anybody REALLY want any of those things at the cost of high crime, violence, or drunk drivers on any street at any time? For ABC to continue to expand an identified problem and then dump it into the hands of SDPD is not only unfair, it is unconscionable, but nobody has charged ABC with the necessity of having a conscience. We weill never guilt them or otherwise force them to use good sense or judgement in their licensing policies. The best we can hope for is to control even more of their current negative impacts on us with a land use policy, specifically a CUP. Responsible business of all types should logically support that. How can increased crime, dui's and community ill-will be of any benefit to any business? Unless greed is the only motivating factor,and they just don't give a damn about the rest.

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