Booze Bans, Curfews Due in More Downtown Parks

Twenty-four-hour alcohol bans are coming soon to two parks in downtown San Diego.

Nearby residents and businesses not only are applauding the move -- many also want night-time curfews extended.

After pockets of strong community opposition in years past, round-the-clock booze bans in public parks are now trending citywide.

"Families don't want their children around alcoholics, they don't want their children to see a can of beer in some dude's hand -- or some woman's hand,” says East Village resident William McConnell, interviewed Thursday near Fault Line Park, due to open this summer. “I've seen pregnant women out here drink, and under the influence."

With downtown becoming more of a residential destination, and given its perennially high population of displaced people, alcohol-free open space for R&R is at a premium.

Urban homeowners and tenants paying high leaseholds especially covet buffers from the safety and sanitation hazards posed by panhandlers, and folks with drinking and drug problems.

"They just lay there,” said Tomi Blouin as she walked her dog past Cortez park during Thursday’s noon hour. “Context, clues say they're probably just under the influence of something. I don't know exactly what -- I mean, it looks to be that way."

So city officials will be enacting 24-hour restrictions against liquor not only in Fault Line Park -- named for the Rose Canyon earthquake fault, which underlies downtown -- but Cortez Park, a narrow, shady retreat that opened in 2008, north of East Village.

It's an upscale residential neighborhood, but down-market elements have made their way among the dog-walkers recently, so it'll finally get a blanket ban on spirits, too.

"You know, constantly being asked for something or being bothered when you're just trying to get home or get to work can be a hassle,” Cortez Hill resident Jasmin Wright told NBC 7.

While it's one thing to impose an ban, its can be quite another to enforce it.

At some point, folks who live in East Village can see a day when police presence needs come to pass.

"There are going to be confrontations,” predicts East Village resident Travis Wolfe. “There are going to be people that don't see eye-to-eye with the whole change in the neighborhood -- because it's moving in a different direction."

Midnight to 6 a.m. curfews would go into effect at both parks, but some locals and business establishments hope they’ll start by 10 p.m. -- maybe even as early as 9.

"What good is going to happen in Fault Line Park after 9 o'clock?” asks John Wantz, general manager of the Stella Public House/Halcyon hospitality complex overlooking the park.

"I think we need to be precautionary for the first year,” Wantz explained, “Because there are no public parks down in this area to take reference to. So if we don't have a reference point, why not proceed with caution first?"

The proposed measures were forwarded by a City Council committee Thursday to the full council for adoption in two weeks.

Meantime, official memos indicate that revamped Horton Plaza Park -- still under construction across Broadway Circle east of NBC 7s downtown studio -- also will get a night-time curfew, with exceptions for special-permit events.

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