Police focus on “party” houses, library survey topics at Pacific Beach Town Council meeting
At the Pacific Beach Town Council’s first regular meeting since October, speakers focused on topics including increased police enforcement of “party houses,” improved library services, creating safer streets and even possibly changing the Town Council’s name.
After a holiday recess and a January meeting focused on ceremonies, the Feb. 17 meeting kicked off with discussion that lasted more than two hours.
San Diego community relations police officer Brandon Broaddus announced at the Zoom meeting that the department was reintroducing the Community Assisted Party Program (CAPP) to eradicate noise and other problems at perennial “party” houses in the neighborhood.
Initiated in 2007 to contain wild parties at San Diego State University, the CAPP program went through some revamping before reemerging last week, according to Broaddus.
Under CAPP, owners as well as residents found at parties are fined $1,000 apiece for violations within 24 hours of an initial police warning to disband a home or apartment area. Residents can be immediately CAPPed if more egregious violations are discovered during the first police visit, such as fights or underage drinking, he said.
In addition, homes can be CAPPed when continuous complaints about a property are registered over a period of time, Broaddus said. As an example, he pointed to a short-term vacation rental property on Diamond Street that had 18 noise complaints over two years.
Once CAPPed, a home carries the designation for a year and each subsequent violation over that time results in the fine.
“Capt. (Matt) Novak wants to be very aggressive about this; trying to bring down some of those noise complaints because they lead to bigger things (such as violence or DUIs),” Broaddus said. “So if we can work on the small problem, it leads us in to eliminating the bigger problem down the road.”
Jim Marshall said he worried that CAPP might not work because with an overstretched police force, officers might respond to a complaint two hours after it was made and find that the party had ended. Broaddus replied that it was the complaint, not the police response, that was critical to CAPP.
“Let’s say Saturday and Sunday those people are having big parties and they shut it down before the cops get there,” he told the council. “What I would do is pull the calls for service for that location and see how many times we actually responded out there or how many calls we got there. Then I can use that to start putting pieces together.”
The meeting featured two main presentations. In the first, Patrick Stewart, CEO of the San Diego Library Foundation, was joined by San Diego Public Library Director Misty Jones to discuss the creation of a Library Master Plan by the library, city Library Commission, Library Foundation, Friends of the Library with other city departments and private organizations.
The last Library Master Plan, adopted in 2002, is obsolete in light of technological advances since then, Stewart told the Town Council.
“This is a crucial time for us to be doing this work” he said. “We get an opportunity to really see how libraries are being used, especially during the pandemic, when so many of us are using specifically the digital/virtual side of libraries.”
With an assessment submitted by two library consultants in December 2019, Stewart listed a number of issues in the current library system, including lack of access in underserved neighborhoods and a falling overall capacity with the city’s population growth.
But the crux of Stewart’s presentation was to ask the audience to participate in a citywide survey launched the day the meeting and running until April 17 to determine what services people want from their library. The survey is available in paper form at all library branches or online at supportmylibrary.org.
“That’s really the most important thing right now is to be able to take the survey,” Stewart said. “While it is thorough and detailed, it is easy to take and does not take a lot of time.”
Specific focus groups and community outreach for comments will follow the survey before a master plan is presented to the Library Commission for approval in mid-summer, after which the approved plan will be submitted to the city for adoption.
Following the library presentation, Town Council member Regina Sinsky-Crosby introduced the “Try Slow Pacific Beach” campaign to reduce car accidents with pedestrians, bicycles and other non-powered vehicles.
Modeled on a similar crusade established on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, Try Slow attempts to change the culture of haste through Try Slow signs, the creation of an interactive community map of problem areas, and expanding on work already done in programs such as PB Pathways and Slow Streets, Sinsky-Crosby said.
She shared statistics that show exponential declines in pedestrian fatalities from auto collisions with every 10 mph reduction in car speed.
But she said waiting for relief from the city wouldn’t turn the tide quickly enough, as the city faces an $86 million budget deficit this year. An example, she said, is that of the 500 proposed roundabouts in San Diego, only three will be constructed this year.
“So PB is waiting for these expensive traffic calming measures that are taking sometimes decades to implement,” she said. “We need something we can do without the city and something that’s free.”
Sinsky-Crosby appealed to the audience to put up signs and otherwise join the cause with their own solutions, and to slow down when driving in the community.
“We’re going to take these little steps and just repeat them over and over and over until we’re successful,” she said. “I’m hoping it’s that kind of paint on a street, not building new infrastructure — just changing things up a little bit — that slows the culture of Pacific Beach.”
Town Council President Marcella Bothwell announced a proposal to change the name of the council to PB Community Association. The Membership and Communications committees discussed the change last fall.
One problem with the Town Council name is the public’s misconception of its ability to fix community problems, she said. In addition, the updated name would offer better marketing possibilities to expand membership.
“Those of us who have worked in the PB Town Council office are familiar and have experienced frustrated callers, where callers thought that the Town Council had more authority than it does with the city,” she said. “Maybe a ‘council’ implies a small group of important people rather than a community.”
Bothwell tasked the two committees with gathering input from the community on the suggested name change and asked members and residents to participate.
“This effort has no urgent timeline,” Bothwell said. “All voices who want to weigh in need to be heard and their feelings toward the name of the Pacific Beach Town Council need to be respected...And I want to make sure people really do understand that this is a listening tour. It is not a talking tour.”