Canceled Beach Party Doesn't Support Lawsuit
(CN) - San Diego activists who had to cancel their beach party because of a summer moratorium on event permits cannot sue the city, a federal judge ruled.
FreePB.org, also known as Free Parks and Beaches for San Diego, describes its mission as "preserving freedom at local parks and beaches" in San Diego, according to the ruling.
In a federal complaint, FreePB.org took aim at San Diego's recently passed summer moratorium that instituted a general ban on all grants of space reservations from the "Saturday prior to Memorial Day ... through Labor Day." Some events qualify for exemptions, and other groups can seek waivers by applying to the city manager.
FreePB.org said it wanted to hold a beach party in Mission Bay Park on Aug. 25, 2012, but that San Diego refused to take action on its application unless the group obtained the necessary waiver.
It said the policy unfairly favors longstanding events in violation of equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel dismissed the complaint last week.
"Plaintiff has failed to allege facts sufficient to demonstrate that Defendant's different treatment of plaintiff's event and the grandfathered events is based on an impermissible classification," Curiel wrote. "The different treatment of long-standing events and new events is a permissible classification."
FreePB.org had also claimed San Diego's decision to issue a "de facto denial" of its permit application smacked of discrimination.
The group had said that San Diego was retaliating against it for opposing a ban on alcohol at the beach that voters passed as part of Proposition D in 2008. Prop. D opponents had tried to work around the ban by organizing an event called Floatopia, in which participants drink while floating on rafts in the water, and FreePB.org said it drew heat for its support of that event as well.
Curiel found, however, that the discriminatory intent claims missed the mark.
"While plaintiff may be among those that criticize defendant's policies and regulations concerning beach resources, the challenged ordinance would apply even to event organizers who did not criticize defendant's policies and regulations and who wished to hold a new event," Curiel wrote.
Because FreePB.org had never applied for a waiver, Curiel said he could not rule on whether the moratorium violated the group's First Amendment Rights.
The main page of FreePB.org's seemingly inactive website announces the cancelation of an event called the 2012 Leisure Olympics, which it had planned to hold on July 14 at Crown Point Shores.
FreePB.org said it organized the event to offer a "smaller, family-oriented alternative to the raunchy and profane Over the Line Tournament," which is one of the grandfathered summer events held annually at the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club.
The announcement vows "to hold the city accountable for their unfair and discriminatory practices."