Residents ask San Diego City Council committee to reduce alcohol-related crime using land use policy

Claim PB alcohol-related crime is 16 times higher

SAN DIEGO - A group of Pacific Beach residents is hoping to convince the city of San Diego to create policies to reduce crimes in areas where public drunkenness is an ongoing problem. They took their message to the Committee on Smart Growth and Land Use.

According to San Diegans for Responsible Planning, Pacific Beach has a 16 times higher rate of alcohol crime than any other community. The East Village and North Park were not far behind, they claim.

"It's kind of a war zone for us," said Pacific Beach resident Jerry Hall. "We’re trying to sound the alarm for the rest of the city that high concentrations of outlets with irresponsible owners or owners that are ignoring laws and not following good business practices are hurting our communities."

Dozens of people packed the hearing room where a video was played that showed inebriated people stumbling and falling down, DUI crashes and a 10News story about the most recent fatality. Kyle Wood, 27, was beaten unconscious during a street fight in Pacific Beach on Mother's Day. He never recovered.

"It's absolutely essential that the city comes together for us, for everyone in our city and our children, they're not safe," said Michaela Forte, who asked that the city of San Diego "take control" by employing land use powers to keep bar owners from allowing the public drunkenness to continue.

San Diegans for Responsible Planning shared statistics and information from other communities where conditional use permits are issued and business enforcement fees are used to keep bars and restaurants in line.

"I think that we as a community need to stop trying to vilify each other and we need to look for permanent solutions that encompass the best of what we have going for us," said Laura Ambrose, who spoke against land use policies. 

Ambrose owns Woodstock's Pizza, and says most restaurant and bar owners are responsible.

"I'm not in any way saying that I am tolerant of violent crime in Pacific Beach, however, I also don't think that we can take a universal approach of saying that this is strictly at the feet of the business community," she said.

The committee did not take any action on the discussion item. Committee Chair Lorie Zapf said she would prefer working with police on enforcement issues before making any policy changes.

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