The city council on Monday banned so-called "floatopia" parties where people booze it up on inner tubes offshore, closing a loophole in a beach alcohol ban.
Since voters banned drinking on the beach in November 2008, revelers have occasionally gathered a few feet offshore on Mission Bay on inner tubes, surfboards, rafts and other floating devices. The new measure, which takes effect immediately, prohibits drinking up to three miles offshore.
Speakers warned that the city was discouraging innocent fun and potentially driving away tourists. Council members said it was a question of saving lives, keeping beaches clean and sparing headaches for police and lifeguards.
"This isn't just the San Diego City Council saying no, no, no to things. This is the San Diego City Council trying to keep people alive at our beaches," Councilwoman Marti Emerald said.
The city says attendance at the occasional drinking events has reached up to 6,000 people and that there have been 66 water rescues, some critical. Beer cans are dumped in the bay and trash left on the beach.
Councilman Tony Young, who opposed the 2008 prohibition on booze at the beach, supported the offshore ban. He predicted that drinkers will now look for another loophole.
"I believe that people who act like adults should get adult privileges," he said. "When you start taking these privileges away, I think these are the types of things that happen. You get `floatopia,' and who knows what's going to be next?"
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