Raftopias Are Legal For Now | NBC 7 San Diego

Raftopias Are Legal For Now

San Diegans find a way around the beach booze ban

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    This image, posted to So San Diego in early August shows the popularity of Inner2bapalooza.

    The scene on Sail Bay Monday was a small fraction of what it was on Saturday. An estimated 1500 people pounding beer and booze. They weren’t drinking on the beach but out on the water where it's street legal, so to speak.

    As far as you could see on the bay. It was just rafts with coolers of beer,” said Pacific Beach resident Leslie Thorp. “People walking down with 12-packs. So clearly, it's obvious, everyone is trying to get around the booze ban.”

    They can't legally lash their floats together or, 'operate' them while under the influence -- or be so drunk and unruly that police and lifeguards have to intervene.

    "We did make several arrests and did issue more than 50 citiations to individuals that were there,” said San Diego Police Assistant Chief Shelley ZImmerman. “And we do not recommend anybody doing that."

    Saturday's alcohol-fueled flotilla was such a happening -- social media sites refer to these gatherings as Raftopias or Floatapalookas -- that wannabe's will flock to the same venue for a taste of the atmosphere.

    "I was kind of hoping it would be like that today. I heard about it. It would've been pretty fun,"said one partygoer who identified himself as Dan. "You gotta just let kids have fun. I think we should still be able to drink on beaches."

    But the prevailing sentiment we heard around the beaches and bays was that they should be safe and sane for families and the really law-abiding. Holidays especially.

    "I used to live down here in the days of all the huge parties and kegs and everything on the beach. And it always ended up spilling over into your yard,” said Bay Park resident Kim Robbins. ”So I definitely think the alcohol ban was a good thing. It just made the beach a lot more inviting for families."

    Voters approved the beach booze ban in November 2008, making a one-year temporary ban permanent on all city beaches. The measure made it illegal to consume alcohol at all city beaches, Mission Bay Park and other coastal recreation areas. If the loophole in the beach ban turns into a floodgate for rowdy drinkers, it may prompt some more civic action.

    San Diego city councilmember Kevin Faulconer said police officers and lifeguards seem to have a handle on things now but there's still the issue of people that have been drinking all afternoon, driving away in their cars.