Alcohol ban loophole affects Mission Bay

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Photo by 'San Diego Shooter' via Flickr

Photo by 'San Diego Shooter' via Flickr

Locals are complaining about the binge drinking and trash from rafters in Mission Bay.  An alcohol ban was placed on San Diego beaches last year but only to those on the sand.  Legally, rafters can consume alcohol in the waters because their feet are not in the sand—although that is not how the law was intended to be interpreted.

Overall, there have not been a large number of people conducting this practice.  Twice this summer, however, drinking in rafts off our beaches became a safety concern when large groups of rafters organized for events.

An estimated 3,000 people converged for one such event, “Inntertube-palooza,” advertised largely over the social networking site Facebook.  It created a safety hazard when intoxicated partygoers had to be rescued from the water.  A similar event called “Floatopia” happened on September 5, where 2,500 floaters gathered in the same area.  The police issued 52 citations and made two arrests on September 5.

Along with the safety of the rafters, littering has become a concern for Pacific Beach residents.  The people who are utilizing this loophole to consume alcohol at beaches don’t seem to be concerned about the environment.

Pacific Beach residents have spotted many people taking their inflatable rafts into the water for drinking throughout the summer. Pacific Beach resident Diane Faulds told Union-Tribune, “I see more of them waving the middle-finger salute at the alcohol ban. They found the loophole and they’re marching through it.”  It may not be a large problem yet but if this littering continues, it can eventually lead to a destroying of San Diego beaches and bays.

According to Scott Chipman, co-founder of, a grass-roots organization, this is an environmental and safety issue.

“Now there are hundreds of pounds of plastic, paper and aluminum being left in the bay as people are drinking out there,” he said. “The question is, is it ramping up and getting bigger next year, or will it diminish? . . . We’ll have to wait and see.”

Even with the loophole, the alcohol ban has been effective in reducing conflicts.  Assistant Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman says the largest issues the police has dealt with over summer involved lost children and disagreements over parking spaces, rather than alcohol-related incidents that have occured in previous years.

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