Lt. Tom Fenner of the Pleasanton Police Department said they have already increased the number of officers at the events and there were several "red flags" that went off over the course of this year's festivities, which included aggressive patrons to the beer garden and underage drinking.
"We noticed since the beginning of the year we've been seeing much more aggressive groups entering, including the late teens supposedly with family members, and those in their early 20s continued to be rowdy," he said. "We monitored them and decided to make a change in August and September to make things safer and see how it would change."
The beer garden's central location makes it a prime spot to host the night's performers, which draws the young and old to dance along to the music. Some residents with children have expressed disappointment with the new enforcement, including Will Harbourne, who wrote a Letter to the Editor to the Weekly, asking if the public should now be concerned that other family-friendly events could change, such as the summer Concerts in the Park series.
With evidence for potential violence, Fenner said the concern is for the children and others who could be in harm's way.
Fenner said the beer garden was getting so crowded at times that it was difficult for officers to adequately monitor whether those drinking appeared to be of age.
"We suspect that some [underage people] were getting alcohol handed to them," he said. "Now at least we can be more confident and then we can deal with the second problem of over-drinking."
Christine Salidivar, executive director for the Pleasanton Downtown Association, which hosts First Wednesday, said they have received positive and negative feedback about the change.
"Some people have stated that it was a good thing, that children shouldn't be in a beer and wine garden," she said. "Others feel it's difficult to have a glass of wine and listen to the band; somebody now needs to stay outside with the children."
Fenner said they would discuss other ideas to make the beer and wine garden a safer place in time for next year's events.
"I know the families are concerned, because it was a nice tradition," he said, adding that they are working with the PDA.
Even with the changes, Salidivar said the spirit of First Wednesday shouldn't be hampered.
"We have a wonderful community and visitors seem to have a good time," she said. "[First Wednesdays are] community events and we don't want people to lose sight of that. The idea is to come and enjoy the downtown and get to know the businesses."
This story contains 505 words.
If you are a paid subscriber, check to make sure you have logged in. Otherwise our system cannot recognize you as having full free access to our site.
If you are a paid print subscriber and haven't yet set up an online account, click here to get your online account activated.