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Police, Lifeguards Want to End Mission Bay “Floatopias”

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Floating parties, called "Floatopias" started cropping up in Mission Bay after San Diego voters passed a ballot initiative banning drinking on city beaches in 2008. Now, the city’s lifeguards and police are looking to end the on-water revelry.

Floating parties, called "Floatopias" started cropping up in Mission Bay after San Diego voters passed a ballot initiative banning drinking on city beaches in 2008. Now, the city’s lifeguards and police are looking to end the on-water revelry.

San Diego’s Police Captain and Chief Lifeguard will propose closing a loophole in city law that allows drinking in the waters off city beaches but not on the beaches themselves at next Wednesday’s Public Safety Committee meeting.

That loophole has led to four floating parties on Mission Bay since last September. Police and lifeguards estimate each of those parties attracted between 1,500 and 6,000 people.

The proposal they present Wednesday will add 'bathers" who are swimming, wading or floating in the ocean off San Diego's beaches to the alcohol ban.

Chief Lifeguard Rick Wurts said his biggest concern in ending on-water drinking is the revelers’ safety.

“We’ve had a little over 50 rescues," he said. "We’ve had to transport several people to the hospital who were injured. All of those incidents were related to alcohol in some form or fashion.”

Wurtz and Police Captain Christopher Ball estimated the two most recent floating parties in March and May cost their departments about $36,000. And, Ball said, the partiers wreak havoc in the surrounding community.

“There is some community outrage at these events," he said. "What we do see is illegal parking, we see public drunkenness, we see public urination. We have people that are transported to detox."

A “Floatopia” Facebook page said another party is planned for July 17. If adopted by the council the changed ordinance would not likely go into effect until late August.

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