Council expands alcohol ban at Kate O. Sessions Park

By James R. Riffel

City News Service

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to expand an alcohol ban at La Jolla’s Kate O. Sessions Park to all hours.

What had been a ban from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily was expanded to an all-out ban.

Since a 24-hour prohibition on alcoholic beverages at city beaches was imposed two years ago, park employees and area residents have noticed an increase in large gatherings and binge drinking in the park, especially on holidays, according to the council members.

Word of holiday gatherings spreads over social networking sites on the Internet and attracts hundreds of people, according to testimony before the council.

City Councilwoman Marti Emerald said “an inconsiderate few” have ruined the park for people who like to go there and sip wine while watching the sunset or listening to a concert.

Councilman Todd Gloria reminded his colleagues that the ban on alcohol at city beaches spawned the “Floatopia” events on Mission Bay, which have also been declared unlawful.

“It begs the question to this councilman, where do they go next?” asked Gloria, who suggested a more comprehensive ordinance be developed. “I assume they won’t become teetotalers.”

Council President Tony Young, who conceded that he used to enjoy taking a beer or two to the beach, said the drinkers will find a new place.

While a large crowd showed up at the meeting to support the measure, only one person spoke, and the one opponent left early.

Supporters of the ban claim the atmosphere at the park is less hospitable than it used to be, and parking and traffic problems have increased. Residents have also complained about public drunkenness, public urination and indecent exposure.

Alcohol use had been banned at the park between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

The action by the council members approved an emergency ordinance, which will ban the consumption of alcoholic beverages at the park immediately, and the law that will take effect in 30 days.