Minors banned from First Wednesday beer garden | August 15, 2008 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

News - August 15, 2008

Minors banned from First Wednesday beer garden

Police say underage drinking, aggressive groups put children in danger

by Emily West

People wanting to knock back a beer or sip a glass of wine while listening to The Houserockers band during the August First Wednesday Street Party may have noticed a change to the Beer and Wine Garden. Starting with the party on Aug. 6, police have limited minors from entering the area.

The same rules will stand at the last First Wednesday Street Party of the season, coming up Sept. 3.

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."


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2008 at 9:35 am

What is it that some people do not understand? The beer and wine garden is a ***beer and wine*** garden, as in serves booze, as in a bar that happens to be outside. Underage kids are not allowed in bars that serve no food -- they do not belong here either. Put cops inside? Look around you, they would have no room to move or observe. Then maybe some kid could grab their gun and mommy could sue the city for allowing cops with guns into the beer garden to mingle with the kids. Pleasanton does more than any city I have ever lived in for families. The whole pooch parade thing was for kids -- swarming the whole of Main Street. There are times that kids just need to be kept in age appropriate places. The beer and wine garden is one, I won't even get started on some others.

Posted by Janet, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Aug 15, 2008 at 11:30 am

With the growth of this event it is time to have a second family friendly location with music and entertainment.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2008 at 12:44 pm

Nice idea . . . . . but do you realize that the bands are paid to perform? And security is paid to be there? If residents are willing to PAY to have additional child friendly areas with bands that might work. Asking the merchants to subsidize it (via PDA dues) is just not gonna fly. The Friday concerts are free and kids can be anywhere during those. Maybe there just need to be some events that do not cater entirely to kids. The whole Main Street area is available for kids, and families, the beer garden should not be. The police always have the option of shutting down the beer and wine area for everyone, a very real possibility, if the underage drinking cannot be stopped. Easy way to do that -- no one underage gets in. Period. Why ruin it for all of the adults?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 15, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Perhaps the drinking area needs to be cordoned off from the music area.

Posted by 5.0, a resident of Birdland
on Aug 15, 2008 at 1:42 pm

Agreed, The drinking area should be in such a place it discourages drinking. Let the families and the normal people enjoy the music.

Posted by Too many rules, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 15, 2008 at 5:03 pm

We seem to be at a point where everything is legislated and common sense accounts for nothing. I believe the do in fact serve food as well in the "drinking area" which would be the same as a restaurant.

Seat belts, helmets, cigarettes, cell phones etc.... Please protect us from ourselves. At some point it would be better to let Darwin apply. Might tidy up the gene pool a bit.

Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 15, 2008 at 8:43 pm

Common sense would indicate that only the trouble-making age group should be disallowed from these events. I doubt that my 3 year old grandson is the source of the trouble. Coming up with an age range is not hard - how about 13 to 21 years for starters?

This kind of problem is quite rare in most European countries. Visitors to the U. S. laugh quietly to themselves when they run into this rule system of ours regarding the treatment of alcohol, which in turn causes our teens to seek it as a goal and act badly. Goes to show you how the brainwashing that the Puritans and like groups performed has lasted for centuries in the U. S.

If the city together with the downtown association don't come up with a system that includes families with children at alcohol-serving musical events, then support by the citizens should not be given to any of the First Wednesday events.

If one drills deeper into the above article and focusses upon Lt. Fenner's comments, it is not just teens with supposed family members who are the problem, but people in their early 20's supposedly handing drinks to the teens, and subsequent overcrowding. He goes on to say children were endangered because of this loss of control by his officers on duty.

So, the response is to get rid of the children, and next the teens so that the police can more easily watch over who is left, the 20 year olds who are a major source of the problem. And the downtown association agreed.

Let's start with things in reverse. Let's say the goal is to provide for families first. Then, you would get rid of the early 20 year olds FIRST. No? NEXT the teens. Eureka, problem solved. Of course, then the police would not even be needed at the event, would they?

Where is the common sense in all of this?

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2008 at 11:01 pm

We went to Europe this summer, and took our minor children along..... going to an event/place that offered wine and/or beer was not a problem (minors were allowed). This rule of not allowing minors is just ridiculous.. they are not the ones who cause problems. The teens who are unsupervised are the ones that should not be allowed to be at the event unless accompanied by a parent/adult.

Solution? Allow minors, as long as there is a parent and/or adult with them. Do not let minors in if they are alone/unsupervised..... such common sense!

Posted by sensible parent, a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 17, 2008 at 9:18 am

Although I have kids I have always felt that there are times when adults should be able to do things without children. Drinking is one. Why do all of you feel that every event, every time has to include your children? My kids have always behaved well in public but more expensive restaurant meals and special occasions than I can count have been ruined by someone else's undisciplined children. Please spare me the "Pleasanton is a kid friendly town" and accept the fact that there are, and always will be, places where your children do not belong. They can be within a few feet of the band on the outside of the beer garden. That is more than sufficient.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Aug 17, 2008 at 11:59 am

can we all get along?

Posted by anon, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm

sure we can all get along . . . . parents, just make your kids behave!

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Aug 17, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Plutonia is a kid friendly town. I think that if you have kids and they are well behaved, then bring them along. If you have teens and you are unable to manage their behavior, stay home, nobody will miss you.

Take along a cell phone with a camera; if you observe adults giving under age youth alcohol, take a shot and put it on UTUBE. Then send a copy to the police with the names of the adults who break the law.

I find it very interesting that you can't blame the "illegals" for this social problem.

Tip: Offer a workshop prior to the party in parenting and let the city mandate attendance for those who bring along teens!

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...your buddy, Cholo!

It's way cool being back in America! HOORAY!

Posted by anon, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 17, 2008 at 6:34 pm

Cholo, you could almost be amusing and sometimes even enlightening if you could drop the garbage about "illegals". The only illegals that this issue has addressed is those too young to be legally drinking. Stop trying to make it seems as if anyone but you has tied this in any way at all to people in this country illegally. We have not. Please pick another soapbox for that issue.

Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 17, 2008 at 7:29 pm

sensible parent. Your comment is understandable in view of those situations where, as the saying goes, "it's best to have left the kids at home". However, First Wednesdays is not one of those situations. Nor will you get the Downtown Association to want the kids to be left at home. And I don't believe the purpose for originally providing the beer and wine garden with its music was some special event to cater to older couples, singles, childless couples, and people such as yourself who are clearly annoyed by other people's kids. Especially in Pleasanton!!!

So, let's hear it from someone at the Downtown Association who puts these affairs on, and let's the police make their rules for them. Who do you want to cater to?

Posted by chologoback, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2008 at 7:33 pm

cholo - leave the world of enlightened plutonians - be gone back to your dark hole where you are welcome. never return.


yes i am the true devil of your dreams and i bid you BE GONE

Posted by Adam, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2008 at 7:45 pm

We have come back to the old problem that there is very little for the 17 to 21 group to do in this town.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Aug 17, 2008 at 9:12 pm

As I see it, there's no problem for the 17-20 yr. old group. CAN YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME HOW EXPECTING TEENS TO BEHAVE THEMSELVEs IN POLITE SOCIETY IS A PROBLEM? If they can't behave themselves, GIVE THEM A DOSE OF REALITY; PLEASE KEEP THEM OUT OF MY HAIR! If they show up, they may get thrown out by the police! HOORAY!!!

I'm gonna be there with a few friends and I promise that we will all have our cameras ready and we plan to keep our eyes and ears open. If we observe your kids screwing it up for us, we're gonna film it and submit the results to UTUBE with copies to the police.

Cholo plans to stick around so chill. I mean like way chill!

I never made any comments about "illegals". duh...

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Aug 17, 2008 at 9:19 pm

Hi anon...eat a pound of trans fat...

Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 17, 2008 at 10:07 pm

Cholo mentioned the idea about cameras first, but separately it struck me as perhaps a great idea to record the clientele of the next beer and wine garden, and then display representative samples to the rest of Pleasanton on a web page. The camera can sometimes capture the essence of what is, or what has been lost. If the result that Lt. Fenner and the Downtown Association has designed is pleasing to the populace, then that's the final answer. If the result looks a bit like mostly old bikers and their mamma's, empty nesters, retirees, or second time around couples, so be it. At least there will be no children with families, which will seem to satisfy the police.

Posted by sendible parent, a resident of Castlewood
on Aug 17, 2008 at 10:22 pm

Frank, you have again taken only what you want from a comment. I never said to leave the kids at home. I said that they do not need to be inside the fence in the beer garden. One very small space, the pizza parking lot, not the entire event. Geez people, read th4e entire post. Kids do not need to be INSIDE the fence, they can be outside and everywhere else in the entire downtown. Keeping them out of the beer garden restricts them to only 99% of the total area of the event. Why is it such a terrible thing to allow the police to enforce the drinking laws? Maybe they should stop enforcing all of the other laws as well. So robbery, rape and murder should also be allowed since they have no right to restrict what we do. What a wonderful place this would be to live in. Cholo can take all the photos he wants but the big bad cops should ignore them and not prosecute anyone.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 17, 2008 at 10:48 pm

I agree. The police should enforce the drinking laws and arrest the people handing alcohol to underage drinkers at First Wednesday instead of banning minors from the beer garden. Imagine if the police actually took action against the perpetrators in such a public place. You'd see really quickly that illegal activity stop.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 17, 2008 at 10:51 pm

Paul Stonebarger supplied alcohol to an underage minor who subsequently went on to crash and kill her best friend. Paul was arrested, charged, and may spend some jailtime. Web Link Why enforce the law in that instance but not in this instance at First Wednesday?

Posted by Jerry, a resident of Oak Hill
on Aug 18, 2008 at 1:43 am

If a child is injured by "aggresive patrons/groups" while in the Beer Garden and the parents file suit against the PDA/City for lack of "sufficient security" the Beer Garden will be history. Remember what happened to the Fourth Of July fireworks at the fairgrounds. One idiot shoots another idiot and the fireworks are history for years.

Doesn't the PDA need a permit to host an activity such as this. If that's true, doesn't the permit state the city, through the PPD, can modify the terms of the permit as they deem necessary, especially when alcohol is involved.

Lt. Fenner stated there was potential for violence and the change was made to protect "children and others that could be in harms way". Is it reasonable to expect the PPD to have 100% control of a large crowd at all times. Let one child be harmed and people would be on this forum demanding to know why the PPD didn't prevent it from happening.

Alcohol and some people don't mix well and things happen no matter the amount of security present.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Aug 18, 2008 at 7:56 am

DEAR SENSIBLE...wear red, white & blue so that we can make sure that you are given an opportunity for a close up! Are you ready for your close up?

As for a fence, this is not the border...sheeeeeeeeesch...

Why don't you hang out in the pizza parking lot, get drunk, then go home and wake up with a hang over.

Dearie, take the high road, be an example, shut up and accept all kids?

(Comment partially removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Posted by Hmm, a resident of Downtown
on Aug 22, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Why don't the Police just do their job? Fine Police of Pleasanton! Lame. (Comment partially removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Posted by RS, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2008 at 2:29 pm

Before banning under 21 year olds, I do wish that they would perhaps have 2 uniformed officers, or maybe even a couple 'under cover' that were assigned inside the parking lot.

You could have one or more, stand near the beer trailer and watch as people order up a beer, and if there is a concern, watch them to see if they then hand it off to someone else that looks under age.

One or two 'busts' for underage drinking - walking the person handcuffed through the crowd would get everyone's attention very quickly. Actually, I think it would also send a message. Make some visible arrests…..let the community see it, and perhaps generate discussions at home about the results of underage drinking.

I am sorry that it had to come to the point where a young family can not have a glass of wine or beer with friends, while they watch their little kids dance to the live music. I have seen parents - NOT drinking, go inside the parking lot just to let their little ones listen and dance.

It is always unfortunate that because of a few - the rest of the community has to adjust. I know laws are directed at the few…..just sad to see it happen when I think other options should have been tried first for this coming month's event.

Posted by BillyBob, a resident of Dublin
on Aug 28, 2008 at 4:34 pm

This conversation is WHY there is a problem!!!! Let the drunks drink at bars...let families enjoy the music. NO MORE ALCOHOL...NO MORE ALCOHOL.....NO MORE FREAKING ALCOHOL..... how damn hard is it for you people to GET IT! Cut off the alcohol, and the families will thank you...

Get a LIFE you drunks.... alcohol doesn't solve your problems!

Posted by aaron, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Sep 2, 2008 at 5:48 pm

part of the reason this event is revenue. nothing is free, these events aren't free. are you paying the missed revenue from these events. i sure don't want to. are we going to have another parcel tax to pay for it? and billybob, take you own advise go somewhere else if you don't want your kids around alchohol. in danville for instance. the bands are in the streets, no alchohol on the streets. but go to the restraunts it is another story. so ok. there are 2 things at the beer gardens, a band, and beer and wine booths. one is getting paid for by the supporters. how do you think the band gets paid.
r/s has a right idea, if by chance police did make a few arrests it would definately send a messege. but only time will tell. adults need a place to relax. kids relax all day while we work. see you all on wednesday. but i'll be with my daughter on the sober side of the st. still listening to the music. you see it is not that hard.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 2, 2008 at 5:57 pm

aaron, I don't understand you. In the other thread it seems like you're disagreeing with me but in this thread it seems like you're agreeing with me (in that you agree with what r/s said and what r/s said is what I'm basically trying to say with the idea that the police need to enforce the laws).

Posted by aaron, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Sep 3, 2008 at 12:46 pm

enforcement if they see it. but that is probably too diffucult in a place that crowded. when i'm there it's tough to see those your with if you walk away for a minute. avoidance is the best solution for the officers and dpartment. on one of the other threads i gave a few examples of why i think this. but when messages are sent they are normally heard. but the structure of the event is screwy.block off an area for minors and another for adults. it'd be alot easier for police to watch the rope line than a mess of people smashing shoulders and drinks to walk by. i think kids and parents should have fun together, but not in a bar atmosphere. there needs to be separation from all non -21 yr olds. otherwise this problem would never go away. as for keeping inventory of who attends, most clubs and bars these days scan and copy your i.d that way if there is a problem they have a easier time isolating the suspect.

i love the downtown events. but things need to be more organized. separate the under 21 from the alchohol and there is no problem for anyone. possibly a larger area to house the event, to where separation wouldn't be an issue