Alcohol consumption at city beach and bay parking lots will be prohibited under an emergency ordinance that is expected to be adopted today by the San Diego City Council.
The ordinance, which was introduced by Councilman Mike Gotch and is supported by the Police Department, is intended to curb increasing citizen complaints of drinking and rowdy behavior by youngsters at five parking lots in and around Mission Bay Park and other city beachfront communities.
The drinking of alcoholic beverages at the beach would not be prohibited by the ordinance.
According to police statistics for a six-week period stretching from June 1 to July 14, police made 687 arrests in the five parking lots and 338, or 49%, of them were alcohol-related. In addition, visitors and residents of the areas reported 99 crimes during the same period, including 30 auto burglaries and 36 thefts.
A police spokesman complained to council members that "young people go to the lots as a social event" where they drink and play loud music. Another speaker said that residents of La Jolla Shores often have to sleep with ear plugs because of nighttime drinking and loud music played at the beach parking lot on Camino del Oro south of Scripps Pier.
That lot and four locations on the periphery of Mission Bay would be affected by the ordinance: Bonita Cove on West Mission Bay Drive; the east and west lots on the south end of Mission Beach, and the parking areas around the Plunge and Belmont Park roller coaster.
Normally, ordinances become effective 45 days after they are passed by the council, but emergency ordinances become effective immediately upon passage. City Atty. John W. Witt expressed concern that the ordinance might not qualify as an emergency now that summer is almost over and youngsters are back in school.
While the crime statistics would indicate that an emergency existed in June and July, Witt told the council that if the ordinance is challenged in court a judge might rule that an emergency no longer exists and invalidate the measure.
"You will have to decide whether these facts create an emergency that must be dealt with for the immediate preservation of public peace," Witt said.
Nevertheless, Gotch argued that the "Police Department needs a greater handle to deal with the problem," and called for a bigger police presence on the parking lots "to dispel the criminal element."
The proposed ordinance enjoyed unanimous support from the five other council members at Monday's meeting and was scheduled for a vote, but Gotch agreed to a 24-hour delay so the city attorney's office can redraft the measure so it can meet the concise language of an emergency ordinance. Initially, the measure was drafted by a member of Gotch's staff.