Park Prohibition Imprudent

Our View: city officials would do well to consider enforcing
existing alcohol laws rather than enacting a ban that will deprive
responsible citizens of the right to drink in public parks.
Gilroy leaders should put a cork in the proposal to ban alcohol at all city parks. Mayor Al Pinheiro perfectly expressed our sentiments when he said, “I’m getting tired of banning everything. When do we ever allow responsible people to enjoy themselves and not always have to think of the few people who can’t follow the rules?”

Currently, alcohol is allowed in picnic areas at Christmas Hill and Las Animas parks, but new Community Services Director Susan Andrade-Wax has led discussions about banning alcohol consumption at all city parks.

Some city officials have proposed banning alcohol in all city parks as a means to try to prevent some homeless people and gang members from drinking in city parks.

” … It frequently turns into a large group of people sitting there drinking.

Right now the officers can only go out there if someone is clearly intoxicated,” said Gilroy Police Chief Gregg Giusiana, who supports enacting a ban.

It’s not as if the city is lacking tools to deal with drunk people in city parks. Gilroy’s laws banning public intoxication and drunk and disorderly conduct should be sufficient to arrest anyone who has overindulged.

But we just can’t see banning folks from having beer or wine with a picnic in the park because a few miscreants can’t behave themselves.

Instead, the city should use its community service officers to be its eyes, ears, and visible deterrents to public intoxication and drunk and disorderly conduct. When an arrest is warranted, the sworn officers should respond.

But adding another ordinance, especially if the current ordinances banning public intoxication and drunk and disorderly conduct are not being enforced, is a feel-good measure for politicians and bureaucrats that punishes law-abiding citizens.

It will be ignored by those who are currently causing problems, and will have no net positive effect on preventing public intoxication or drunk and disorderly conduct in Gilroy’s parks.

Andrade-Wax is expected to present a draft ordinance to ban alcohol consumption at all city parks to the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission in the next few months.

We urge commissioners and City Council members to find ways to encourage the police to enforce the ordinances already in place and to not punish law-abiding citizens by banning booze at all city parks.

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