PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Our view: An alcohol ban on the river on Labor Day weekend would quell the crowd and make the event safe and manageable again.

Taking a cue from two other areas, Butte and Glenn counties are combining to address the problems associated with the Labor Day float.

Labor Day weekend attracts thousands of young adults for a floating party on the Sacramento River. Last year an estimated 15,000 jammed the river on the Sunday of the three-day weekend for the brief trip from the Highway 32 bridge in Hamilton City to Scotty”s Boat Landing.

The problem with a crowd that large on the river is there”s no place to park, there”s no place to go to the bathroom (except the river) and an awful lot of garbage gets left behind. There”s also fighting, underage drinking and unsafe conditions on roads.

Seemingly every law enforcement agency in the county and volunteers work hard to keep people safe. There are dozens of rescues because drunk people and sunken trees don”t mix.

Then there”s the problem of what happens in the campus neighborhoods the rest of the weekend. With thousands of young adults traveling to Chico for a party weekend promoted on social media, the campus neighborhoods were unsafe. Dozens of arrests were made, and most of the people arrested weren”t local college students.

Clearly, something needs to be done to tame the event.

One reason nothing has been done is that there are too many jurisdictions. Butte and Glenn County, California State Parks, Chico police, University police, the California Highway Patrol and more have to deal with the issue.

Nobody, however, was willing to take a lead role — until December, when Chico Police Chief Mike Maloney worked with Butte County Sheriff Jerry Smith and Glenn County Sheriff Larry Jones to bring everybody together for a strategy discussion.

The aim was to make the event safer and manageable. More than a dozen agencies were represented, including elected officials, local government officials and public safety agencies.

Maloney had an interest because the float on the river leads to three or four days of problems for his department. He studied what other areas have done when the problems become too big.

Both Sacramento County and Placer County have passed alcohol bans to help with problems on the American and Truckee rivers. It seems to have helped. Butte County has tried something similar on Butte Creek, but there”s little in the way of enforcement.

Now Butte and Glenn counties, along with the city of Chico, are working with Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda, on state legislation that would ban alcohol on that short stretch of river on Labor Day weekend. The Chico City Council and the Butte County Board of Supervisors each voted Tuesday to support asking the Legislature to pass the alcohol ban on that weekend.

The state can ban alcohol on the water, but the counties would have to pass ordinances banning it on the river bank. The first step is to get state legislation in place, since that process takes longer. We urge Logue to give this prompt attention.

People who want to enjoy the river don”t need alcohol to do so. Those who just want to party can find safer places.

blog comments powered by Disqus