The residents would like a once-a-week, two-and-a-half-hour "window" during which they would be exempt from safety-minded laws enforced all over the state that prohibit alcohol consumption on public beaches.
Apparently the residents have been ignoring this law for a while and are just about fed up with local law enforcement seeking to make them comply.
They came to City Council recently asking for a "pilot" program just for them. Most on the council shook their heads in dismay and all but said, "Go home." But City Manager Ken Frank apparently thinks he can find a way to let the residents tipple on the beach while keeping alcohol out of the hands of the rest of us.
The fact is, Laguna Beach has some of the most liberal alcoholic beverage laws that exist just about anywhere. Section 8.04.010 of the municipal code, "Drinking or possession in public places," prohibits imbibing or even having alcohol in public, but states that: "It shall not be a violation of this section to consume alcoholic beverages with a bona fide meal in any public park."
So you can pack that sparkling wine in your picnic basket and head to Heisler Park without fear of legal repercussions. But take that wine down to the beach — or drink to the point of drunkenness — and you'll be heading for a citation or at least a warning from your friendly police, if not the "sober cell" at the city jail.
Of course, hard liquor has been a tradition on some local beaches for years. The "martini flag" at Crystal Cove is a nostalgic tradition that lives on, harmlessly. The flag is raised on the beach, but the drinking is done elsewhere.
Raising a "Friday night happy hour" flag at Shaw's Cove would make the job of enforcing the no-alcohol-on-the-beach ordinance a nightmare for police.
We'd all like to have an exception to some law — parking laws, for instance. But the law against drinking alcohol on the beach has no doubt saved lives.
Let's hope the Shaw's Cove folks decide for themselves that toasting the sunset with fruit punch is an acceptable way to end the day in Laguna.