GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG/AP) – Officials say an immediate ban on alcohol has been placed on public beaches in the Gulf Shores corporate limits.
The ban is effective immediately until April 17.
Gulf Shores spokesman Grant Brown says no alcohol should be consumed between the dunes and waterline.
Mayor Robert Craft said during the meeting that the reasoning behind the ban is to keep a safe environment in the Gulf Shores during spring break. Craft says there has been an increase in students at the beach in recent years.
The city says anyone in violation of the new ordinance is subject to a fine up to $500 or up to six months in jail.
Panama City, Florida banned alcohol on their beaches in 2015. Worried that those spring breakers might flee to Gulf Shores, officials there took the plunge and did the same.
“So that we’re being responsible to the community that’s here. We’ve worked way too hard to have a family-friendly beach destination for years and years and years and we just can’t allow that element to really take over our community,” says Gulf Shores Public Information Officer Grant Brown.
“I don’t think you have to have alcohol on the beach to have fun,” says one spring breaker.
City officials unanimously passed the ordinance with support from area businesses. Brown says he’s had calls from students asking if the ban was real and if they could get their deposits back on rental properties.
“Doesn’t mean that you still can’t come down, have a great time and enjoy the beach and enjoy Gulf shores. You can drink responsibly in your units and around the pools,” says Brown.
“I just think if you’re not doing anything wrong, then it should be fine,” says Kayla McKinster from Fort Smith, Arkansas.
“I understand that you’ve got to put restrictions on some things when people mess it up for everyone else but it sucks for the people that want to drink responsibly and just come here and have a good time for spring break,” says Braden Johnson from Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Brown says it will save money used on first responders who put their lives in danger responding to intoxicated undergrads. He recalls one day that the surf was especially choppy.
“And it puts our public safety officers in potential harm’s way, we’ve got our lifeguards that are out there that are having to get these kids and haul them back in and the kids don’t want to be brought in and so they’re fighting the lifeguards as they’re trying to come back in,” says Brown.
“I think it’s pretty smart, it’s going to reduce trash on the beaches,” says Fairhope resident Darby Dempsey.
“If it’s impacting the violence rate then yeah, they should have stricter laws but banning it all together on the beach, you know, I don’t think they should have,” says Ken Smith.
“When they get there and the families get here, we don’t feel like they should be run off by this beer drinking, funneling type of activity on the beach and it’s really creating an unsafe environment,” says Brown.
There are concerns of students moving the party down a few miles to Orange Beach. Now Orange Beach is not passing a similar ordinance as of right now, but they are urging everyone to act responsibly.
*The Associated Press contributed to this report.