It's almost that time of again, when Newport Beach police clamp down on the Balboa Peninsula as both drunken and sober holiday revelers turn the area into a virtual street and beach party for the Fourth of July.
"The biggest issue is the crowds," said Sgt. Evan Sailor. "You have a lot of people coming down to celebrate, a lot of people drinking. You put that mix together, it can become a volatile situation."
Last year, police arrested 119 people in Newport Beach on the Fourth of July. Officers handed out more than 345 tickets and 669 parking citations. Nearly 85% of those arrested last year were from out of town.
To increase crowd control this year, police have shut down the peninsula entrance from West Balboa Boulevard at Coast Highway to vehicle, foot and bicycle traffic from noon to 6 p.m. People will have to enter the peninsula from Newport Boulevard.
The Safety Enhancement Zone law is in effect this year, meaning anyone given a citation there on the holiday will have their fine tripled. The Safety Enhancement Zone is the area between 54th and 32nd streets and Pacific Coast Highway and Newport Boulevard.
The city's parking lots at City Hall and Superior Avenue will also be closed from July 3 at 5 p.m. to July 5 at 7 a.m. On top of increased parking officer staffing, there will be more than 200 Newport Beach officers and California Highway Patrol and Orange County Sheriff's Department deputies on the peninsula. There will be four-officer teams per block on the peninsula on July 4, officials said.
No open alcoholic beverages or containers are permitted on public property, so partiers will have to stay on house patios and the like.
"Just be safe and use common sense," Sailor said.
Anyone with questions regarding traffic or other concerns can call the police department's public information line at (949) 644-3696.