San Diego to consider banning offshore boozing

The City Council will look into closing a loophole in ban on beach drinking. People on boats exempted

Published July 26, 2010 7:50PM (EDT)

The City Council will consider letting the air out of "floatopia" parties that involve thousands of people boozing it up on inner tubes just offshore.

The council was scheduled to meet Monday to consider closing a loophole in the city ban on drinking at the beach.

An amended version would ban seagoing boozing by floaters, swimmers, waders and bodysurfers up to three nautical miles offshore. People on boats would be exempted.

The council could pass the measure on an emergency basis, allowing it to take immediate effect.

Since the alcohol ban took effect on Jan. 1, 2009, people have skirted the law a handful of times by gathering a few feet offshore in Mission Bay on inner tubes, surfboards, rafts and other floating devices.

Parties advertised online through Facebook and other social network sites have drawn thousands of mainly college-aged revelers. One event in March drew as many as 6,000 people.

There haven't been any drownings but police and lifeguards said they have made dozens of rescues and spent more than $20,000 policing the floatopias. Lifeguards said several people had to be taken to the hospital, and in one instance a man almost drowned because he was so drunk he couldn't stand up in shallow water.

Councilman Tony Young, who didn't support the original alcohol ban, said he isn't surprised the crowds found a way to circumvent the law. He supports the latest proposal but wants to be careful about over-regulating the public.

"In some ways, we're responsible for this because we have created a situation where individuals felt that they had to do this," Young said last month at a council public safety committee hearing.

Councilwoman Marti Emerald said the council had to act because the parties are a public safety risk.

By Associated Press

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