If you go to UC Irvine, chances are you’ve been to the Newport Beach “warzone” before. The stretch of the peninsula that goes from roughly 30th Street to 50th Street is legendary to student and non-student partiers alike who enjoy public intoxication and random party crashing.
Newport Beach isn’t the only Orange County city inviting drunken shenanigans either. Huntington Beach and Fullerton have also had problems with their expansive bar scenes, as patrons spill out into residential areas after hours, causing a ruckus and disrupting homeowners who are just trying to sleep in on the weekend. There also have been a large number of drunk-driving arrests that originate from the aforementioned bar concentrations.
But, like I said, if you are a student here this shouldn’t be news to you, even if you haven’t experienced it first-hand.
I’m here to tell you why the cities are justified in cracking down.
The main problem with these bar scenes is that they are composed of a largely transient community. In Newport, the people who attend the bars are visitors or warzone patrons, who typically are only living there for a year or two at a time. In Huntington and Fullerton, people largely commute to the bars.
So when it comes time for the party crowd to go to a city council meeting and defend their right to drink, the biggest issue is that they aren’t going to be there. These people are typically not at that stage of their life yet where they care about protecting and improving their community; their main priorities are getting drunk, laid and being extreme, in no particular order.
Even if one took a judgment-free look at people with party lifestyles, it’s clear that the partiers don’t have a “lobbying arm” for their activities. In an argument featuring the police department and tax-paying, land-owning citizens versus a transient college population (that won’t even defend their actions), the first group is going to win.
The only clear victims Ńfiscally speaking, not lack-of-party speaking Ń are the landlords and bar proprietors in these areas.
Don’t be fooled. The landlords are first-degree a-holes. This is partly colored by my own personal experience in living in Newport Beach, but I can vouch for other friends with similar experiences.
My landlord came from a family that bought a bunch of houses in the 1950s when they were dramatically undervalued. Now, he gets to collect checks once a month, do minimal maintenance and basically ensure that the walls stay up for the next tenant. When our microwave broke, it was a week-long dispute to replace it. When our shower broke, he refused to reimburse us for a plumber because “we didn’t ask him to fix it first” (I’m sorry that I didn’t assume that 7-series driving, Rolex-wearing douchebags moonlight as handymen). Finally, when I started having chronic breathing issues because of mold, I moved out.
But what does this bad experience signify? It’s a typical treatment of tenants by landlords who like to collect on exorbitant rents and do minimal work. While that last sentence might be the credo of all landlords, the Newport ones have it particularly easy. They aren’t invested in the community at all, or they’d be making improvements to the houses as if they lived in them themselves.
The bar patrons are also not victims. While the move might cut into their profits a little bit, I suspect they would save money on security, noise fines and replacing furnishings that get broken in bar tussles. Worst of all, they may have to let some of their bartenders go. It’s not the city council’s fault that there might be a lack of bartending jobs. I’m sure there is a preponderance of bouncing and stripping jobs somewhere else for peninsula male and female bartenders, respectively. These aren’t your classy bartenders at the Waldorf-Astoria or even the Pub. They’ll land on their feet and find menial work elsewhere.
I guess the main reason why I sympathize with the city councils so much isn’t because I’m opposed to partying. I’m opposed to people that can’t keep it together. If everyone got drunk, stayed jovial, had designated drivers and got home safely and disruption-free, there would be no problems. The problems are caused by people who drink beyond a healthy limit (certainly not discouraged by the bars), start fights, create a ruckus in the street and get DUIs.
And when the expendable income you have now gets reallocated from large bar tabs to property taxes and perennial plants at Home Depot, you will agree with me.
Michael Boileau is a fifth-year political science and cognitive science double major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.