Two opposing views regarding the ban on brew at San Diego's beaches inadvertently surfaced during the June 25th meeting of the Ocean Beach town council. When Officer David Surwilo, community liaison for the police department's Western Division, informed the town council that arrests have gone up by over 80 percent over the month of April, while serious crimes like robbery were down, it prompted a question from a council member. Stephen Heverly, 2nd Vice President of OB's town council, asked Officer David Surwilo if the numbers were proof the beer ban was working.
Officer Surwilo responded with a question. "Well, why don't you tell me, is the beer ban working? Does your boardwalk and beach look better?"
Heverly was the first to respond. He said despite hearing the ban on booze was causing a spike in crime, he felt like the ban was working.
Many of the board members nodded their heads, but member Lisa Fenno disagreed. "Yeah, the boardwalk and the beach look good, but now you get accosted more when you leave the beach. To me it's just moved everyone off the beach and pushed them inland."
Officer David Surwilo said the beach division is patrolling the alleys to address the loitering going on, though he seemed to agree with Fenno that the ban is pushing the transient population further inland. While driving through his old beat in Hillcrest, Surwilo said he noticed many different, more hardened homeless faces, which he attributed to the ban pushing the homeless away from the beach and up the hill.
If the ban on booze is merely pushing those hardened faces away from the beach and towards downtown, it is clear that the issue is much more complex than just drinking on San Diego's beaches.
The OB town council meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month at the Masonic Temple, located at 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd in Ocean Beach. Visit their website at obtowncouncil.org.