Tasting rooms, breweries NOT blamed for problems

Correction: "Alcohol related crime rate in Ocean Beach has not risen 400%."

Though the author maintains that Lt. William Carter was quoted accurately at the July 19 Ocean Beach Public Safety meeting, she admits introducing inaccuracies in other areas of the original report, which has been struck in order to avoid confusion. — Ed.

UPDATE/CORRECTION 7/28, 6:30 p.m.

From Lt. William Carter:

"First, the alcohol related crime rate in Ocean Beach has not risen 400%. A specific geographic area is given a baseline of what is considered an average acceptable alcohol related crime rate per population. In the case of Ocean Beach, the acceptable percentage is 120% of the base line number assigned. In the 2015 year, Ocean Beach geographic area was 432% of the base line number. This is not an increase in crime rate. There were no statistics given for previous years to indicate if the baseline level has increased, decreased or remained the same.

"Secondly, alcohol related crimes do not differentiate where it originated. The source of alcohol could be imported from other areas, homes, bars, tasting rooms, restaurants, or convenient stores. Therefore it is misleading to say that tasting rooms, current or proposed are the source of alcohol related crimes stats. Certainly it is reasonable to believe any provider of alcohol has some contribution to overall rates, but none should be singled out.

"Thirdly, when a new off-sale alcohol establishment wants to come into a geographic area within the City of San Diego, or a current business wants to change the conditions of their existing permit, Police Service Area Stations are asked for whether the area station recommends approval or not. Not all proposed businesses get input from Service Area Stations. The San Diego Police Licensing and Permits Unit is the clearing house for all new and existing permits recommendations, and provide the final input for the department.

"Fourth, the processes for obtaining alcohol licenses are regulated by ABC, and they are the controlling agency for new and existing license. There are many types of licenses that a business can obtain, and the timeframe for obtaining them varies per type."

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If you take any neighborhood and add drugs and alcohol you are going to have problems. It is what it is.

(1 of 2) Lt. Carter says alcohol-related crime is up 400% and blames it on tasting rooms that either recently opened or are YET to open? Apparently, places not yet open are causing an increase in the alcohol problem in OB before they are selling alcohol? Really?? It's difficult to discern from this article whether the Lt. is relying on 2016 data for the first 6 months or 2015 data. Either way, OB Brewery and Helm's weren't even open until May/June of 2016.

So, let's break this down. Culture - open in 2014ish? Full of moms and dads, strollers, and dogs. Sells only beer. Closes at 10 most days. Would love to see how many crimes link back to this but I'm sure the stats don't include the establishment that got the person intoxicated. Hard to believe it would result in more than a small handful.

Hess - open in late 2015ish? Same limited hours, limited booze (beer only). Certainly don't see as many people in here as other establishments in North OB. Whatever, lest we forget Lucy's is open AND crowded at 7am but who cares. Lucy's isn't the problem since it isn't new so we can't and shouldn't complain. We only complain about new establishments because we hate change in OB. We all want to go back to more failed clothing stores and porno theaters.

Are there other new tasting rooms I'm missing that should be counted in the 400% increase? OB Brewery? They opened less than a month ago - not nearly long enough to have any stats. Helms? Not even open long enough to be captured by this alleged data. Oh, I guess I forgot the wine tasting place (so did the cop) but that place is empty nightly. Belching Beaver hasn't opened. Kilowatt hasn't opened. Oh, I know - Pizza Port! All those troubled 7 year olds are getting way too intense playing arcade games after their soccer game. Shut that place down.

WHAT AM I MISSING? Publish the data and let us dig through it. Unless and until I have a look, I'll only believe the police are throwing blame because they are catching heat for not responding to calls in a timely fashion (or sometimes not at all). Countless people have non-alcohol related assaults to report on OB Crime Watch Facebook page that never see police. Too bad they aren't included in the data because no cop showed up.

As to the different requirements for tasting rooms vs. full blown liquor stores? Makes perfect sense. We don't know what people do with a bottle of liquor when they leave 7/11. We (or the owners/servers/managers, not me specifically) know what a person consumes in a tasting room because it is served on site. 7/11 sells a bottle of vodka? Next thing you know a dozen 18 year old run-aways are chugging it by the sea wall. Let's get rid of liquor stores, CVS, and the dreaded 7/11s.

(2 of 2) Look, it's easy to get in front of a community group and throw blame around and try to attach causality to an uptick in alcohol-related incidents. Here, it's near impossible to say there's causality since there isn't even correlation given the vast majority of these oh-so-dangerous tasting rooms were not open in 2015. But hey, I'm just a resident that doesn't take one cop's word for it because I spend my life undoing wrongful convictions they so often perpetuate.

And to Mercy's closing statement: "There were many more comments against these places being built than in support of Wear's statements." I just checked and there are 33 total comments. Many of them are the same people continuing to contribute. I'd call it 5 in favor of tasting rooms, 4 against them, and 7 neutral (complaining about Belching Beaver's name, the encroachment of the sidewalk by businesses of which OB Brewery is one, and explaining the process by which you would complain if you were so inclined). So to say the comments are largely against is not entirely true but maybe Mercy and I are interpreting the comments differently. Regardless, counting these comments is a poor way to determine whether the community, on a whole, wants these tasting rooms.

In conclusion, you can call me biased. I love craft beers. I love the craft brewery scene and I love sampling them. I've been to all these terrible, end-of-the-world places. But because of this, I'm probably more exposed to this scene than many others. So I challenge all of you nay-sayers out there. Mercy. Barb from the other article's comments. Whoever. Stop by Culture on a busy Friday after work and grab a pint (or a water if craft beer isn't your thing). Observe the crowds that come in. I think you'll be hard pressed to find a rowdy crowd like the 7/11 fans on the sea wall. Hopefully see you next Friday.

Love the name "Belching Beaver". Good beer, too.

OBMikeS: I too would like to see stats on alcohol related problems as they relate to where the booze was purchased. I suspect that the real culprits are not the new places you mention but the established bars, liquor stores, markets and 7-11's that are open and serving/selling to 2 am.

There are two possibilities at work here. The first is that the stats, which are not clear and definitive, are a mess, and mean little. The second is that the SDPD, responding to "community concern" has decided to crack down. A strong police presence in OB was never widely desired, and cops were tolerated but usually unwelcome. If the cops have really gone to work there, there would have been plenty of citations and arrests to be made. But on the whole, as described, this crime wave may or may not exist, except in the minds of a few.

"But on the whole, as described, this crime wave may or may not exist, except in the minds of a few."

Between 2014 and 2015: Alcohol crimes in OB jumped 20%. (so there were "plenty of citations and arrests to be made," as Visduh put it). Violent crimes (often involving alcohol) declined by 5% in OB.

And in for the first six months of 2016, there were 5% fewer violent crimes in OB, compared to the first six months of 2015.

Stats for alcohol crimes aren't available

So overall, violent crime is down slightly in OB, whether you look at the numbers for the last two calendar years, or compare the latest cumulative monthly tallies. Good news!

But looking at alcohol crimes, with the one-year jump of 20%...y'all can draw your own conclusions. Alcoholics and bar owners will blame the homeless, as usual. But yeah, the cops were kept really busy last year in OB, handling all the charming behaviors associated with alcohol. Adding more breweries will help reduce problems, though, because they only serve beer. And no one gets drunk on beer. Especially craft beer, even if it does have twice as much alcohol in it. Because it's just BEER, man, not demon rum.
That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

There's also been an increased police presence and fake police. With that, you'll always see an increase in alcohol related arrests. It is what it is.

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