The City Council finalized a one-year trial ban on drinking at the beach today, setting the stage for a likely referendum to repeal the law.

City ordinances are required to be approved by the council twice before they can become law. The council’s first approval of the ban, which was supported by the council 5-2, came on Nov. 5.

It’s anticipated the ban will be challenged at the ballot box by opponents in the beach communities and liquor industry.

Petitioning for a referendum won’t likely begin until later this month or in early December. City law allows the public to challenge a law in an upcoming election if 5 percent of the city’s electorate — or 30,209 voters — sign a petition. Referendum supporters can begin gathering signatures 30 days after the mayor takes final action on the proposal, which could be as early as tomorrow.

Signature gatherers have been spotted outside local supermarkets and liquor stores since the council’s first vote, but those signatures won’t count toward the 5 percent needed to put the issue on the ballot.

Today’s council vote mirrored the first, with Council members Scott Peters, Kevin Faulconer, Toni Atkins, Donna Frye and Ben Hueso voting for the ban. Councilmen Tony Young and Jim Madaffer voted no. Councilman Brian Maienschein, who was absent during the first meeting, did not vote today.

Under the proposal, alcohol would be banned around the clock throughout the year from all city beaches. However, alcohol will be allowed at some coastal areas with a city-issued permit for special events.


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