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Keep Our Beaches Dry
July 2008 | by Jon Edelbrock


In May, the City Council unanimously voted to ban alcohol consumption on the beach and in our two popular beach-side parks, Seagrove and Powerhouse, through Labor Day weekend. Preceding the Council's decision, tension stemming from large crowds on the beaches and streets had been increasing significantly. Questions regarding the roots of the increase in incidents requiring enforcement seemed to point to most issues being alcohol-related.

From a qualitative perspective, the initial result of the ban seems to be very positive. Much like the City of San Diego and their beaches, the outcome has been a more peaceful crowd - on both beach and streets. When describing the difference between Labor Day weekend crowds and those on the first day of school in the fall, I tell people it's like the lights have been turned off. I believe we can all agree the change has not been significant to that degree; however, the appearance of a more family-friendly beach community is readily apparent from my perch.

Enforcement on the streets as well as the beach has become much more benign. The resident reviews, as well as those from our employees, have been extremely positive with most lauding the council's decision. Initially, I had questions about the enforcement of the ban - especially given the unfriendly nature of alcohol-related contacts in general. Will there be stepped-up enforcement and, if so, by whom? Will large parties move to the homes and streets requiring more enforcement? To all my doubts and concerns, I've been greeted with manageable results allowing myself and our Lifeguard staff to focus less on law enforcement issues and more on beach safety and community service.

As mentioned, the City of San Diego and most other neighboring beach communities have also instituted a beach alcohol ban and have seen remarkable differences on their beaches. Most notable is the volume of trash and previously unmanageable number of crowds in the Mission and Pacific Beach areas. Multiple lifeguards on those beaches have ecstatically expressed their kudos for the ban and noted a significant decrease in incidents, just as we've seen to date.

Agree with the ban or not, from a recreation management standpoint, the immediate results of the alcohol ban have yielded precisely what the city anticipated – public space that is both safe and enjoyable for the entire community.


Jon Edelbrock is Community Services and Lifeguard Sergeant with City of Del Mar's Community Services.



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