Map shows late night in P.B. is the time for public urination citations in San Diego


People are more likely to be ticketed for relieving themselves in public from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., according to San Diego city data.

Especially in Pacific Beach.

Nearly 650 citations for urinating or defecating in public were issued in San Diego from January 2017 to June of this year, and more than half occurred during the late and early hours of Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

According to San Diego’s Municipal Code, it’s illegal to go to the bathroom in public or in a space exposed to public view. Those areas include a street, sidewalk, alley, plaza, park, beach, public building or publicly-maintained facility.

Unlike state laws, which didn’t recognize the act as a public nuisance until 2006, San Diego has banned it since at least 1952.

Data show San Diego Police Department officers issued 354 tickets in Pacific Beach, 55 percent of the total offenses documented citywide. It the highest number among all San Diego neighborhoods, mirroring a trend seen in 2011 when The San Diego Union-Tribune did a similar analysis.

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Two citations were not able to be mapped due to incomplete address information. The map does not include all incidents of public urination or defecation, since police data only tracks when someone is caught in the act or immediately after.

Donna Cleary, a spokeswoman for San Diego Councilwoman Lorie Zapf who represents that area, said the numbers do not come as a surprise, given the number of bars in that area and an increase in police presence when those places close for the night.

“It’s where people go to bars, and where people are more likely to do something stupid,” Cleary said. “There’s a lot of tickets because there’s a lot of enforcement.”

Nearly all of the tickets were written around Garnet and Grand avenues, from Ingraham Street to the beach. According to Yelp, a search and review platform for local restaurants and businesses, there are at least 44 bar-related establishments that are open after 10 p.m. on Fridays in that zone.

Data show an average of four tickets were issued in Pacific Beach almost every week in 2017. No citations were written the week following New Year’s Eve or the week of Christmas.

According to Cleary, Councilwoman Zapf has requested over the past four years more police presence in that area, especially when bars close or “break” around 2 a.m.

She added that the problem doesn’t appear to stem from San Diego’s homeless population, which is the fourth largest in the state, since there were no tickets issued in the areas of Pacific Beach where homeless people tend to congregate.

“This is not a homeless problem,” Cleary said. “This is more of a bar break problem.”

San Diego is still reeling from an outbreak of hepatitis A first identified in March of last year that has killed 20 people and sickened 590, according to the county’s website. The majority of people who contracted the liver disease were homeless or illicit drug users.

Most hepatitis A outbreaks are caused by contaminated food, but San Diego’s health crisis was spread from person to person through contaminated fecal matter, a channel rarely seen outside of developing countries.

Officials attributed the outbreak to a lack of public restroom facilities and basic sanitation among the area’s homeless population.

Data show downtown San Diego had the second largest number of urinating and defecation citations, about 120, accounting for more than 18 percent all tickets issued in the city. The most concentrated area, with 51 citations, was between Ash and Market Street between State Street and 9th Avenue.

According to the January 2018 homeless count, that same area has the second largest homeless population in San Diego County with some 200 individuals.

Another section of downtown, south of Market Street and north of San Diego Bay between Petco Park and Interstate 5, had 29 public urination or defecation citations. The count identified more than 430 homeless people in that area, the largest population in the county.

The entire downtown area contained more than 10 percent of the county’s total homeless population, data show.

In October 2017, San Diego County officials released data on where hepatitis A patients were located. The ZIP code 92101, which includes all of 81 cases, had the largest concentration in the county.

Downtown San Diego had the second highest number of public urination and defecation tickets in 2011 as well, according to the newspaper’s previous analysis.

A spokesman for Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who was a councilman representing that area at the time, said it was important to address the quality of life crimes “immediately and head on in both the Pacific Beach and downtown communities.”

Greg Block, a spokesman for Faulconer, said the police department’s new neighborhood policing division, launched earlier this year, targets quality-of-life issues such as public urination and other illegal activity that hurts neighborhoods. The city has also increased cleanup efforts on the streets, Block said.

“The ‘Clean SD’ initiative has sanitized nearly 1,300 city blocks since September 2017 and those sanitation efforts are ongoing,” Block said in an email. “The city also sanitizes three times a week and every other Wednesday at the beaches, which includes Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, and Mission Beach.”

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