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Monday, November 14, 2005 | Editor’s Note: The author is the vice chair, not chair, of the Pacific Beach Community Planning Committee. Voice apologizes for the error, which was edited into this column.

Pacific Beach residents have been under siege for about 10 years. Not the normal summer influx of tourists and beach visitors, but a siege involving alcohol, drugs and concurrent crime. We who used to have Sees Candy, shoe stores, a Sears catalog store, two movie theaters, a five and ten, and other resident-serving businesses now have bars, bars and even more bars.

Neighborhoods within walking distance of Garnet Avenue are beset by drunks, particularly on holidays. Not your normal, happy-go-lucky drunks, but noisy, urinating, defecating, vandalizing and house-breaking drunks. We have the highest number of DUI arrests, assaults, break-ins and other misdemeanors and felonies in the city.

Deputy Mayor Toni Atkins assured us that she would not docket the issue until after Pacific Beach had a council representative to advocate our position. Inexplicably, two weeks ago she docketed the issue for Nov. 29. It is unlikely any candidate for District 2 will gain a 50-percent plus one majority, so we will have no one on Council to speak for us at that hearing. There is no reason for this haste. Building will not begin for at least 18 months. I suspect – no, I’m sure – that no council member wants this facility near his/her homes or schools.

Pacific Beach has a large number of drunken visitors, 99 percent of whom do not live in PB. We already have a Community Court to address the issue of drunk-in-public citations and a “hiring hall” to address the issue of unemployment. Now we are facing the establishment of an “Inebriate Reception Center” to process inebriated persons from all over the city, including the Gaslamp Quarter, and releasing them back into our community without providing any transition services, and without our acquiescence.

PB residents have made their wishes known; this is a volatile issue. Who will listen to us downtown? Certainly not the present council, which doesn’t want the facility in their district and which is acting with unseemly haste to push this item along because District 2 has neither a voice nor a vote to oppose it.

Catherine A. Strohlein is vice chair of the Pacific Beach Community Planning Committee.

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