WindanSea beach drinking debated


Residents of the area around WindanSea Beach have taken the first step toward getting alcohol banned at the beach.

Dozens of homeowners from the area around WindanSea, located at the end of Nautilus Street, came to the Aug. 27 meeting of the La Jolla Town Council’s Parks and Beaches Committee to support extending the alcohol ban that currently exists at other La Jolla beaches to include WindanSea. They argued that alcohol has contributed to an increase in a variety of disruptive behaviors at WindanSea and the surrounding areas.

They found support on the committee, which voted 11-0 with two abstentions to support a 24-hour ban on alcohol at WindanSea.

The vote is only the first step toward any such ban becoming law. The Parks and Beaches Committee vote will serve to advise the full La Jolla Town Council when it considers the issue in the coming months. The issue would probably also be heard by the La Jolla Community Planning Association before it moves to the city level, where the final decision would be made. But the committee has been a starting point for big changes to beach rules before. The smoking ban that now applies to all parks and beaches in San Diego began as a proposal at the Town Council’s Parks and Beaches Committee to ban smoking on La Jolla beaches, before it got to the city level and was expanded.

Alcohol is currently permitted at some La Jolla beaches, including WindanSea and La Jolla Cove, from noon until dark. It is prohibited at La Jolla Shores and at Marine Street beach, just to the north of WindanSea. Area resident John Beaver said those restrictions have caused WindanSea to become “a focal point for people who want to come to the beach and party.”

Brenda and Ted Petersen, who have lived near WindanSea for the past 10 years, said that alcohol consumption at the beach has intensified over the last few years.

“They’re not just carrying six-packs down anymore - they’re carrying 30-packs,” Brenda Petersen said.

Petersen said she was concerned about such beach-goers getting into their cars at the end of the day, as well as a variety of other related problems. She said she has seen fights on the sidewalk in front of her home and that someone had urinated on her front gate.

“Someone who is not drunk would not do that,” she said.

A room vote found that 34 people supported banning alcohol at WindanSea, with only one person opposed. Charley Barringer said he has been a regular at WindanSea for years and that an “ebb and flow” of rowdiness has taken place at the beach throughout its history.

“This summer has been as mellow as summer as we’ve had,” Barringer said. “Let’s face it, there’s bad behavior everywhere. I think extending this ban to the entire beach is extreme compared to the number of incidents. I think it’s much worse than the problem really merits.”

Jerry Hall, who has led a movement in Pacific Beach to ban alcohol on beaches there, came to the meeting to support the same cause in La Jolla.

The committee voted to support a ban at WindanSea Beach, as well as at the two “pocket beaches” immediately to the south. The issue will next be heard by the entire Town Council, which meets every second Thursday of the month at La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St.

The committee also heard a presentation on the latest design for the new lifeguard tower at Children’s Pool. The lifeguards are hoping to replace its current decrepit tower, which was built in the early 1960s, and have appeared several times before community groups with new designs for the station.

The latest design, which trimmed about 110 square feet off the plaza level from the last design and eliminated the elevator component, was met with enthusiasm from some committee members but criticism from others, who want more of the station built underground to reduce its visual impact.

Committee chair Deborah Lindholm said she was embarrassed that the group couldn’t come to a consensus on the tower, and made a motion to give it one more chance at next month’s meeting. She said the issue would definitely come to a vote next month and hoped that consensus could be found in the meantime.

Lifeguard Lieutenant John Greenhalgh said the same arguments have been made for some time and that he was not optimistic an agreement could be reached in the next month.

The next meeting of the Town Council’s Parks and Beaches Committee will be held Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. at the Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St.