San Diego's ban on alcohol at beaches and bayfront parks is now at issue in yet another challenge to police authority over special event permits.
It involves plans for a wedding-rehearsal picnic at Mission Beach next month.
Paul Falcone and Robin Blalock are running out of time – and patience with the San Diego Police Department.
A BYOB 'beer garden'.
Touchy territory, under San Diego's voter-approved beach booze ban.
The couple’s wedding is scheduled for July 27, and will be attended by dozens of relatives and guests from 18 states and three countries.
On the day before, from noon to 6 p.m., they're looking to stage a rehearsal picnic on a stretch of Mission Beach north of Belmont Park, featuring a fenced-off BYOB compound where alcohol sales and minors would be excluded – with no carry-out privileges permitted.
Falcone, a Pacific Beach resident, says the Police Department is offering a 'modified' alcohol permit for the beach at Ventura Cove, across Mission Boulevard on the bay side.
That’s not what the wedding party has in mind – they want the grand view of the rolling waves of the Pacific, and the finer-grained sand on Mission Beach.
“My family is all staying in that vicinity,” Falcone said in an interview Wednesday. “There’s restaurants, activities, rental equipment -- I also belong to the Wave House Plunge. They have a great locker room facility there, so my family can use that facility as well.”
But to hold the BYOB picnic on the oceanfront, police would require the couple to hire private security and caterers and undergo environmental, traffic and parking reviews -- which would cost thousands of dollars, a non-starter for them.
On Wednesday, Falcone appealed to the City Council's Public Safety & Neighborhood Services Committee, saying the Police Department is foot-dragging on a decision while he's juggling countless details and arrangements.
"I don't understand why I have to wait this long to get this done -- by far the most time-consuming process has been this one, in our wedding," he said.
But Falcone was told that his appeal was premature because police haven't formally denied him permit yet, and the item was taken off-calendar.
Afterwards, he wondered whether police would rule on way or another in time for him to make alternate arrangements for the rehearsal picnic.
“If I had known how much time this would consume,” Falcone says, “it probably would have changed my mind.”
Also speaking out on the issue was Rob Rynearson, a spokesman for FreePB.org, which has filed a lawsuit against the city challenging the special events permit granted to the Over-The-Line Tournament, while such a permit was denied for a “Leisure Olympics” that FreePB.org wants to hold at Crown Point Shores on the weekend after the OTL runs its course.
“The city is playing games,” Rynearson told the committee, “and they’re trying to use very semantic excuse they can to deny people their due process rights to an appeal before this committee … to hide from the public the arbitrary and discriminatory practices that are currently going on with respect to special event permitting.”
Mayor Filner has scheduled a Thursday morning news conference to announce a settlement that, presumably, will uphold a special alcohol permit for the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club, the OTL’s sponsor.
The Council committee, meantime, has formed a "working group" to address a number of troublesome administrative issues involving the city’s beach alcohol ban.