Pacific Beach residents gathered Wednesday night to voice their concerns over heavy alcohol use in their beachside community, and how that could be fueling violence in their neighborhoods.
Many residents feel the prevalence of bars and excessive use of alcohol is to blame for creating crime in the area.
“I have two teenage daughters who won’t go down Garnet Avenue after 10 o’clock,” said Pacific Beach resident Brian Curry, who has spent the last decade trying to make his community safer.
Curry was one of at least two dozen locals at a Pacific Beach town council meeting Wednesday night, where alcohol was the hot topic.
“What happened here in Pacific Beach is we’ve had a clash of personalities and a clash of ideologies that’s really disjointed,” Curry explained. “The alcohol problem has been such a hot topic. Let’s all come together and come up with a solution.”
Rob Hall with the North City Prevention Coalition said Pacific Beach had 192 violent crimes last year, leading to the community’s current ranking as the second most crime-heavy community in San Diego.
“The purpose of tonight’s meeting was to get everyone on the same page,” said Hall. “This issue isn’t new. It’s been around a long time, and yet we keep hearing statistics off the police website and someone says, ‘Oh, you’re a liar, you just made that up.’”
Sara Berns, director of Discover Pacific Beach, works closely with bars and restaurants in the area. She attended Wednesday’s meeting as well, and argued that local businesses are working with the community to reduce crime.
“This conversation always turns into an ‘us versus them’ or this side versus that side. I don’t think anybody wants to be known for crime. I don’t think anyone wants there to be a lot of crime. We’re also talking about a lot of people who come to Pacific Beach,” Berns said.
Curry said it’s unfortunate that this debate has carried on for long.
“We’ve been doing this going on 10 years,” he lamented. “[We’re] trying to come up with a solution. Something has to happen; people are visiting and they’re saying they’re never coming back to our beach areas.”
And although the theme of the community meeting was to implement solutions that work, neither side seemed to have a clear answer on how to reduce alcohol-related crimes in Pacific Beach – at least for now.