The city of Gulf Shores, Alabama, passed an ordinance during a special meeting on Friday banning alcohol on all public beaches during spring break. The city council voted unanimously to enact a new rule that prohibits the possession and consumption of any alcoholic beverages from now until April 17.
According to the city officials, college students who visit during spring break tend to binge drink, which leads to a substantial number of crimes like public urination and disorderly conduct. As reported by WMBF News, anyone found guilty of the Gulf Shores alcohol ban ordinance will be fined $500 or up to six months in jail.
Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft has been campaigning for such a ban.
“The city has a responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of our residents and visitors and an obligation to protect the reputation of the city as a family-friendly destination. In order to keep spring break in Gulf Shores a safe environment, it is time we take action.”
Craft said Gulf Shores has long been known as a destination friendly to families who come to enjoy the beaches and other attractions the area has to offer. According to the mayor, the city is obligated to provide a safe and fun experience to all visitors.
Some college students are not happy with the city’s new rule.
“It kind of stinks for those of us that are actually going to be responsible about their drinking… because it kind of ruins it for all of us,” said Maggie Johnson, from Arkansas.
“If you are a legal adult, I don’t see what the problem is with it. When you come to the beach — that’s part of the experience,” said LSU student William Pemu.
Other spring breakers think the ordinance is a good idea.
“It really is nice actually. You can come in and not have so much trash. It’s not populated I guess as it was last week. So the lack of alcohol is kind of driving the people away a little bit,” said Savanna Woods, from Mobile, Alabama.
While the reviews are mixed, many are reconsidering their plans for next year’s spring break. Many see the ordinance as a penalty for having a good time and don’t want to take the chance of getting in trouble.
Gulf Shores Public Information Officer Grant Brown says his office has been inundated with calls from students trying to confirm that the ordinance is real. Many have been asking how to get their deposits back on rental properties.
It will save the community money that it normally spends on emergency responders who have to take care of intoxicated young adults, Brown noted. He said the students are still welcome to come and have a good time but need to do so responsibly.
An alcohol ban similar to the Gulf Shores ordinance was passed by Panama City Beach, Florida, last year. While it did not take effect until the March 2016 spring break season, the city council enacted rules prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on all beaches.
One of the major motivations behind Panama City’s alcohol ordinance was triggered by a series of violent crimes that shocked and angered local officials. One incident, caught on surveillance camera, involved a woman being raped in broad daylight on one of the city’s beaches.
Another incident involved a spring break house party shooting by an individual from Mobile, Alabama. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, David Jamichael Daniels shot several times into a condo unit and severely injured several college students. During his confession, he admitted to being drunk and high on synthetic marijuana, or “Spice.”
The Gulf Shores ban on alcohol covers any part of the beach within the city limits from Gulf State Park Beach to West Beach. Besides safety concerns, the new prohibition was partially in response to keep Panama City spring breakers from flocking to Gulf Shores.
[Photo by Rick Gershon/Getty Images]