Alcohol-related crime down over weekend

Alcohol-related crime was down and San Diego police apparently made no arrests for drunkenness this Labor Day, it was reported today.

Beach attendance was lower compared with last year’s holiday weekend, when the city’s alcohol ban was not yet in effect, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Beach crowds totaled more than 172,000 Monday compared to 354,000 people at city beaches last year, the newspaper reported.

The alcohol ban has been in place since January on a one-year trial basis and voters will determine whether to make it permanent in November.

Proponents of Proposition D say a permanent ban would make the beaches cleaner and safer while opponents argue that an alcohol ban at the beach unfairly punishes people who drink responsibly.

A brawl at Pacific Beach last year prompted the city’s one-year trial alcohol ban.

One year after a large Labor Day melee led to calls for a ban on alcohol at San Diego’s beaches, lifeguards reported few problems over Labor Day with a temporary booze ban in effect.

“It was a tame, enjoyable crowd - quite a change from last year,’' said San Diego lifeguard Lt. Andy Lerum.

“It was a fair to excellent day with lots of people out enjoying the beach,’' the lieutenant said.

He said there were some water rescues, but nothing major.

Labor Day is the end of peak season staffing for lifeguards, but “we stay flexible, and a lot of lifeguards still want to work,’' said Lerum.

Voters will be asked in November whether to make the one-year trial ban on alcohol at San Diego’s beaches and coastal parks permanent. The ban, which was approved by the City Council, expires on Jan. 14.

Calls for more stringent regulations on drinking at city beaches followed last year’s Labor Day melee in Pacific Beach, where police in riot gear were pelted with beer cans and more than a dozen people were ultimately arrested.

Supporters of the booze ban, including City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, argue it has had a positive effect on beaches, contributing to reduced crime and trash and creating a family atmosphere.

Opponents claim the ban’s benefits are exaggerated and have led to a reduction in tourism - with no reduction in crime.