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The Return Of Floatopia


Aired 2/21/11

In a continuing game of beach-drinking chess, organizers of the infamous Floatopia events believe they've found a way around a San Diego law that prohibits drinking at the beach or while floating on a raft.

— Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water, the Floatopia drunk-fest is making a comeback. But this time it has a new twist.

People float on rafts and drink on Sail Bay in Pacific Beach during a Floatop...
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Above: People float on rafts and drink on Sail Bay in Pacific Beach during a Floatopia event on July 17, 2010. The San Diego City Council has since banned the events. But organizers believe they've found a loophole in the law.

Drinking on San Diego's beaches has been banned. Drinking while floating on a raft in the water has been banned. But organizers of the Floatopia events that drew thousands of college students to Mission Bay are not giving up. Their latest idea is Rowtopia, or drinking in rowboats. Organizers believe it's a way around San Diego's ordinance because drinking is allowed on boats.

But Lifeguard Lt. John Everhart said this just means more laws come into play, including DUI.

"The person that is operating a vessel, whether it's a sailboat under sail, or boat manually propelled, like a row boat or kayak, or certainly a motor boat, cannot be intoxicated," he said.

Everhart said the bottom line is that mixing alcohol and water, no matter what you're floating on, is extremely dangerous. Rowtopia organizers are planning the event on Facebook. They said it will take place in late March.

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Avatar for user 'dialyn'

dialyn | February 21, 2011 at 7:45 a.m. ― 5 years, 11 months ago

I don't understand why people think they have to get drunk and stupid to have "fun," especially when it means garbaging up an area that other people use. This nonsense costs the city a lot of money to clean up and almost always ends in someone getting hurt. I realize young adults like to test limits and be idiots, but why can't they do that in their own backyards instead of out in public? Oh, I know, fifteen minutes of fame showing themselves to be out of control and foolish. I certainly hope future employers take note.

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Avatar for user 'Bishop'

Bishop | February 21, 2011 at 9:29 a.m. ― 5 years, 11 months ago

I don't understand why people can't drink a beverage of their choice in public without being lumped in with those who get drunk and stupid. Why can't those adults who act like adults enjoy the beverage they please, even if some immature people get out of control?

There's a world of difference between immature college kids who overindulge and cause problems, and real grown-ups who like to bring a fine fermented beverage out to the beach (perhaps that they've made themselves).

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Avatar for user 'dmitryb'

dmitryb | February 21, 2011 at 10:55 a.m. ― 5 years, 11 months ago

Oh, I don't know... Could it be because we insist on treating people like little children who know not what they are doing? Part of being an adult is being able to make your own choice and then deal with consequences of those choices. We don't seem to allow people much of either.

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Avatar for user 'San_Diego_DUI_Attorney'

San_Diego_DUI_Attorney | February 21, 2011 at 4:46 p.m. ― 5 years, 11 months ago

Our lifeguard friend may be a little confused as to what constitutes a vessel watercraft for BUI purposes?

Sailors, jet skiers, power boaters, fishermen and pleasure seekers on a watercraft probably are aware it is just as illegal to operate a boat or watercraft under the influence as it is to drive under the influence. It is lawful for adult boaters to legally drink or simply have open containers in their vessels as long as the captain or skipper is not .08% or higher (BUI).


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Avatar for user 'BNALION'

BNALION | February 22, 2011 at 6:37 p.m. ― 5 years, 11 months ago

I find it very interesting a credible NEWS Organization, that I am a financial contributor to, is slanting their "reporting" of this event/issue. The RIGHTS, CHOICES & FREEDOMS of San Diego Citizen's have been stripped by a small vocal group in PB who do not want ANYONE to enjoy a beer, wine, etc. on “their” beaches, bays and parks!

This is Not about Drunks it is about the Freedom of adults to have a choice to enjoy a cold one on any day/evening and not be a criminal. Try getting both sides of a story before you report it!


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Avatar for user 'JohnnyR'

JohnnyR | February 23, 2011 at 8:50 a.m. ― 5 years, 11 months ago

Floatopia is clearly a push back by the people who are fed up with the alcohol ban on the beach. Over 60% of the voters living in the beach area voted AGAINST a ban.
We can NOT allow the wants of the few to out weigh the wants of the many.
Was there ever a Floatopia before the beach ban, NO!?!?
Enough is enough. END THE BAN!

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Avatar for user 'moneil'

moneil | February 23, 2011 at 11:45 a.m. ― 5 years, 11 months ago

To Johnny R and others who hate the ban: Maybe it was those 60% who also didnt give a darn about keeping our beaches clean! Hey, I would love to be able to crack open a bottle of wine on the beach with my husband on occasion but unfortunately too many out there were not able to drink (or smoke for that matter) responsibly and without polluting our beaches or forcing others to 'share' in their obnoxious behavior. With the ban in place, I have never seen the beaches look cleaner or safer than they do now. I was quite frankly embarrassed to bring out of town friends to our beaches, particularly in PB, back in the days when we had idiots out there (mostly college kids who couldn't seem to hold their liquor) and resorted to beer bonging and burning couches on the beaches - yes maybe some of you will remember those 'daze'. Although on one hand I am saddened that we had to resort to a ban for all, I am relieved to see cleaner and safer beaches that don't reek of alcohol, littered with beer bottles, cigarette butts and oh, don't forget the urine!

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Avatar for user 'mkcortez'

mkcortez | February 23, 2011 at 2:58 p.m. ― 5 years, 11 months ago

This may seem harsh, but doesn't it simply come down to personal responsibility? It is quite clear to any reasonable person that drinking while floating in the ocean may result in drowning, and if it does, then the individual is solely at fault. I feel that this ban is partially fueled by fear that lawsuits may result if injuries occur.
Historically, bans of any particular activity have resulted only in the practice still being done, but in secret and at greater risk. Would it be too much to simply limit the hours of Floatopia to those which are monitored by lifeguards and/or law enforcement? This would allow for fines to be applied, arrests to be made, or whatever punishment is appropriate and fair to be carried out on the spot and only against those who actually offend.
Personally, I have no desire to participate in these events, but I don't try to deny the RESPONSIBLE use of our natural beauty to those who wish to avail themselves of it. Thought, San Diego?

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Avatar for user 'PBResident'

PBResident | March 2, 2011 at 12:29 p.m. ― 5 years, 10 months ago

You wonder why people in PB, especially residents along Sail Bay, are upset about the Floatopias, especially the aftermath? You obviously didn't see the hundreds of floats left behind, the thousands of beer cans and other trash discarded in the water, the numerous drunks so inebriated they were falling into the water in danger of drowning or collapsing onto the sand in the fetal position. And, oh, yes, in this era of strapped city budgets, how about a price tag of $53,000 (according to a public records request) per Floatopia in police, lifeguards and fire/rescue costs, just so a couple of thousand irresponsible drunks can drink themselves silly?

Why do we as taxpayers have to underwrite the costs of your need to get drunk in public? Why not just get drunk in the bars? Of course, then you'd have to pay the tab, rather than every taxpayer. I think it would be fine to let these drunks suffer the consequences of their "personal choices," but then the city would be sued by their parents for failing to prevent their deaths.

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Avatar for user 'blackbike'

blackbike | March 2, 2011 at 5:46 p.m. ― 5 years, 10 months ago

Uh, "DUI ATTORNEY," you said the lifeguard was confused..then re-stated exactly what HE said.
As for the concerns of the's the deal. Drinking on a boat is legal, just need a sober operator. Always has been. Nobody cares.
Drinking on a float was legal. Nobody cared. But when six thousand bros descended on one spot, and trashed the beach, people cared.
Get a "vessel" or two. Get twenty of your friends and go have a floating party. Do it this weekend. Nobody cares.
But if 3,000 idiots...yeah, I said idiots...all gather at once in one spot and trash the beach, it will draw the attention of law enforcement. Idiots will be idiots, and they will be cited for illegal activity.
Hey, everyone likes to relax with a drink of their choice. But do you really have to show up at a Facebook event to have a good time? Are you people, or sheep? Are you really so concerned with being one of the "cool kids?"
Look, I like a cold beer at the beach. I drink all the time, and get nothing more than a friendly wave from passing cops. If you can't figure out how to do that, it's YOUR problem. The beach ban wasn't aimed at a "dry" beach; it was aimed at shutting down crowds of 3,000 idiots.
If 5,000 people show up for this, and 3,000 of 'em are the math. If the cops are citing the idiots, and you're right there...and step out of line just a little..they can't cut you any slack.
If the weather's nice, I'll be at the beach, having a couple of beers that day. Nobody cares. The cops will smile and wave at me, on their way to babysit the crowd at the rowtopia. Yeah, it's selective enforcement...and you just selected yourself for extra scrutiny, by joining a crowd that's sure to include a lot of idiots.
Nobody who has posted here is an idiot. But read the comments over on Facebook, regarding this event. Being in your "vessel" next to some of those guys...come on, why not just paint a target on the side of your boat...

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Avatar for user 'blackbike'

blackbike | March 2, 2011 at 6:06 p.m. ― 5 years, 10 months ago

"Part of being an adult is being able to make your own choice and then deal with consequences of those choices." Dmitry, good point. But what do you suggest we do when there are no consequences? Drunk in public is not an arrestable offense. (Ask a cop or an attorney, or just google 'drunk in public California.')
The consequences of drunks at the beach? The beach booze ban. The consequences of previous floatopia-type events? No more floatopias.
Neither of these were about "a few people spoiling it for the rest of us." It was about big crowds of people misbehaving with no consequences. Now we have consequences, sanctioned by an election. And consequences, sanctioned by the city council. The same people who LOST that election for you, the same people whose actions created the booze ban, the same people who couldn't gather enough signatures to stop the ban before it got to the ballot....these same wizards are telling you to go to Rowtopia. They're the same people who trashed Sail Bay, then went to the PS&NS committee and told the city leaders, "You're not the boss of me!" They're the same people who can't even get an event permit from the city for a see where I'm going with this? You really want to take advice from these corndogs?
Dmitry, I talked with you two years ago, right after the temporary booze ban passed, at Reed Street Beach. Remember? You asked why beach drinkers didn't deserve another chance. I gave you the list of times that booze bans had been enacted, then many chances. Blown, every time. By whom? The same people promoting Rowtopia.
Dmitry, we've talked, face to face. You're a reasonable guy. Knowing the track record of the promoters of this event..and what they've cost all of it reasonable to even listen to their nonsense?

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Avatar for user 'blackbike'

blackbike | March 2, 2011 at 6:24 p.m. ― 5 years, 10 months ago

mkcortez: "Would it be too much to simply limit the hours of Floatopia to those which are monitored by lifeguards and/or law enforcement?" Yes, here's why. The floating party on Labor Day 2009 had less than one percent of the beach crowd that weekend, but they garnered 25 percent of all the arrests and citations. We, the taxpayers, just won't continue to pay for that. No floatopia means the cops and lifeguards are free to patrol the streets, direct traffic, look for lost kids, watch for swimmers in trouble on other beaches, know, the reasons we HAVE cops and lifeguards in the first place. And when your suggestion was applied again, in March of 2010, it cost taxpayers 50k for just one day, on just a quarter-mile of beach. When the floating party moved to Fiesta Island, same detail of cops, lifeguards, and EMTs had to be there....unavailable for service elsewhere. Bonus? The floating drunks bobbed down to the beach at the youth aquatic center. The youth groups had to abandon their beach, and move around to the other side of the island. And the floating drinkers trashed Fiesta Island...which, until I saw it, wouldn't have believed was possible. (Whereas OMBAC leaves the island cleaner than it was before the OTL tournament....which is why you still can drink at that event. Responsible operators.)
Sorry for the lecture. But it seems that people just don't look at the history of this issue, and realize that the beach booze ban was the absolute last resort. Nobody wanted to do it. And, once again, nobody cares if you drink on the beach. Now, or ever. We're just not going to pay the tab for someone else's stupid and illegal actions.

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Avatar for user 'blackbike'

blackbike | March 2, 2011 at 6:49 p.m. ― 5 years, 10 months ago

"The RIGHTS, CHOICES & FREEDOMS of San Diego Citizen's have been stripped by a small vocal group in PB who do not want ANYONE to enjoy a beer, wine, etc. on “their” beaches, bays and parks! "
Uh, check the city ordinance. 180 or so public parks, citywide, don't allow alcohol. When the drinkers get out of control, the neighborhood surrounding that park go through the process of fixing the problem. Since city beaches (and Mission Bay) aren't neighborhood parks, but coastal parks, designed to serve the whole city, and visitors, too....everyone in the city voted. The NOMBYKs (Not On My Beach You Knuckleheads) spoke very clearly. 40 thousand people live in PB. Two hundred and fifteen thousand or so votes in favor of the ban. Please explain the "small vocal group" part again, I don't understand your point.
Thank you.

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