The Crackdown on Partying

If a politician wanted to learn how he could get thousands of 20-somethings to instantly learn his name, he might very well study the experience of San Diego City Councilman Kevin Faulconer. Because of his passionate plea for a ban of alcohol on city beaches after a melee broke out in Pacific Beach last July, Faulconer instantly achieved an explosion of name recognition among young people who enjoy a drink or two on city beaches.

Faulconer proposed that the consumption of alcohol on the city’s beaches be prohibited. Some had suggested banning booze only on the major holidays. Faulconer got his colleagues to approve the full ban in spite of the lukewarm endorsement of the police chief and the disinterest of the mayor.

But Faulconer gained allies in City Councilwoman Donna Frye and City Attorney Mike Aguirre.

Faulconer endears himself to San Diego’s partying masses.

In coming days, we’ll know whether alcohol retailers were successfully able to gather enough signatures to put a referendum on the ban on the ballot. And we’ll find out if something has changed between now and the last time the issue hit the ballot.

We’ll also find out, in the coming year, what is going to happen with the critical mass of energy that has accumulated to do something, anything, about those so-called mini-dorms in the College Area. It’s as if partying in San Diego has finally crossed the line of decency provoking a full attack response. Residents are fed up with landlords who rent their properties to potentially a dozen or more college students leaving the door open, literally, to partiers, litter and other nuisances. The city cracked down with a super potent $1,000 noise fine on some partiers but that’s not going to be enough for college neighbors.

Restricting who can live where, however, has never been a very easy thing for governments to do. It’s a difficult dance fraught with potential for crossing the line into discrimination. Residents succeeded in forcing the city to charge a $1,000 permit fee for properties that will have more than six adult residents. That regulation would also place other restrictions on the actions typical of mini-dorm landlords — like paving the front lawn to make room for more cars. This law passed but concerns about its effect on large families means it will come back for review.

The other ordinance would ban homes with three or more rooms from having three or more rental agreements. But this too is a mindbender. Is a city attorney or bureaucrat really going to have to review every lease in the city to see if it violates this law?

We’ll find out in 2008.

San Diego has always attracted people who struggle to connect to the community but are attracted to its attributes — its climate, beaches and universities. We all somehow live in harmony, but the partying in 2007 was enough to force restrictions in 2008.

SCOTT LEWIS

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