So, why the ballot measure — can’t San Diego City Council just make permanent the temporary beach booze ban already in place?

That question was posed minutes after San Diego City Councilman Kevin Faulconer and City Council President Scott Peters announced their intentions Tuesday to put a permanent ban on the November ballot.

It’s a good question. A ballot measure will cost more than $300,000, and instituting such a ban is perfectly within City Council’s purview.

Peters’ answer is twofold: First, because it is such an emotionally charged issue he thinks its best left up to voters. Secondly, it is quite possible that opponents of the ban could get enough signatures for a special election, which would cost the city upwards of $3 million.

“There is a lot of talk among alcohol sellers that they’re going to do a referendum, and run a big campaign against this,” Peters said. “And that creates a real budget threat.”

In other words, spend $300,000 now to avoid the possibility of a $3 million tab down the road.

But how likely is it that opponents would be able to mount a successful signature drive? Didn’t they try and fail to do just that earlier this year?

DAVID WASHBURN

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