San Diego’s ‘Floatopia’ is history

By  | 

The boozing off-shore party, ‘floatopia,’ is no more as San Diego City Council put a stop to the event. After two years of San Diegans taking full advantage of the loophole through the beach drinking law which only restricts drinking on the sand, the city has sought to ban drinking to “bathers.”

City council voted unanimously Monday to end all drinking for those in the water, which includes almost everyone that is not in a boat. The council is making it, “unlawful for any bather to consume any alcoholic beverage within one marine league of any beach.” One marine league is considered about three and a half miles long.


The ban against drinking alcoholic beverages on beach sand took place November 2008 and since then beach goers have found a way around the law. The mostly 20-something crowd gathers on inner-tubes, surfboards, rafts, and other floating devices to enjoy a drink while soaking in the sun.

Floatopia is usually advertised on social media networking sites anonymously and has drawn in crowds up to 6,000 people off the shore of Mission Bay. There have been no reported drownings, but lifeguards have had to make close to 70 rescues when the parties occur. Not to mention the debris and alcohol remains littered on the beach and costs police thousands to have cleaned up.

Those against the new ban have said it will hurt tourism in San Diego, but that did not affect the city councils vote.

Councilwoman Marti Emerald said the council had to act because the parties are a public safety risk. “This isn’t just the San Diego City Council saying no, no, no to things. This is the San Diego City Council trying to keep people alive at our beaches,”  she said.

The city originally moved to have alcohol prohibited on beach land due to an alcohol-fueled riot on Pacific Beach Labor Day weekend 2008. The possibility of another such incident, drownings, or injuries is a risk the city council is not willing to take.

This isn’t the first time a community has had to put an end to floatopia events. Santa Barbara County banned alcohol on Isla Vista Beach and within 100 yards in the water. The city had been dealing with these parties for five years and voted to end floating events last year.

Tony Manolatos, a representative for several San Diego beaches including Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach said, “Now we have to take [the alcohol ban] a step further.”

Photo courtesy of Ryan Leighty via Flickr.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *