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Why is the Gaslamp District So Dangerous on the Weekends? A Look Into the High Rate of Bar Fights in Downtown San Diego.

With a population estimated to be over 1.3 million, San Diego is home to some of the richest history in the United States. Made up of fine beaches and beautiful suburbs that boast of being the safest neighborhoods in the country, it is also host to incredibly unsafe districts. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years, the Gaslamp district has quickly joining the ranks of dangerous places to visit in San Diego.

Consisting predominantly of two by ten blocks in central downtown, Gaslamp quarter has some of the swankiest pubs, clubs and restaurants in downtown San Diego. The Gaslamp really comes alive at night, particularly on the weekends. Understandably, most tourists love to sample the night life of downtown San Diego, which results in the Gaslamp District seeing a lot of human traffic as soon as the evening sets in.

Gaslamp Quarter Showcasing a Pulsating Night Life

Several unfortunate series of events that seem to be going unchecked have thrust the district into poor light with many people beginning to be wary of the area. With a growing prevalence of violence in the popular nightlife district, the chances of witnessing a bar fight in Gaslamp are as high as 90%. Some examples follow:

  • On the morning of August 27th, 2016 a man was kicked and hit in the head when trying to break up a bar brawl in the Gaslamp district. The victim was knocked on the ground before being pounded the people who instigated the bar fight. The incident left the 29 year old man paralyzed.
  • On the 10th of March, 2016 police in San Diego received a phone call from a local hospital reporting the presence of young man with critical injuries resulting from blunt force trauma. He was identified as Conner Kepple. Conner was out with friends in the downtown area of Gaslamp quarter celebrating his 21st birthday when he got into a scuffle in one of the establishments. He died from his injuries a few days later.
  • On the 15th of June, 2015, Michael Louis Beaver and two other people were heading out of a club after their night out when he was sucker punched for reacting to a comment made about his brother. His brother threw up outside the clubb eliciting a comment from a female in a nearby group. When he reacted to her words she slapped him and her male companion hit him in the mouth. However, his death came at the hands of another male from the group who blindsided him and sucker punched him, causing him to fall and hit his head on a metal railing.
  • A bouncer from a popular Gaslamp night club was shot in the upper thigh in the early hours of April 30th, 2017 following a bar fight. This is one of several shootings reported in the area as a result of a bar fight. As the violence becomes the norm, the appearance of guns at this bar fights has also become more prevalent.

These are just a few of the examples that have made it to the limelight involving revelers who went to Gaslamp for a good time and wound up injured or worse, dead. Many more are not reported and so do not become homicide investigations.

Why Gaslamp Quarter?

By conservative estimates, the district attracts 15,000 patrons on an average weekend and over 30,000 on busier weekends. Considered the epicenter of SanDiego’s nightlife, Gaslamp District has over 100 establishments offering everything from fine dining to pubs serving San Diego’s popular craft beer.

Welcoming Visitors in Droves

Economic analysts believe that what the area is seeing now is a re-emergence of the old Gaslamp district which until the early 20th century was proliferated with drug dens and was a haven for prostitution and gamblers. They believe that these underground influences were never really obliterated but only went further underground and maintained a presence that is becoming more forceful as they reemerge.

A deeper look shows that poverty levels in the district are in fact very high, which would explain the resurgence of crime in the area. Poverty levels in Gaslamp are equivalent to the national average ,with San Diego registering levels higher than during the great recession. According to the Center on Policy Initiatives, over a million people in San Diego county are unable to make ends meet and are living on the edge of poverty. 4% of Gaslamp quarter residents live off food stamps.

These statistics on poverty speak directly to the increase in illegal economic activities which go hand in hand with increased violence in a society. Gaslamp features plenty of drinking areas within the vicinity of neighborhoods. In a document by Alcohol Justice about alcohol outlet density and public health, the correlation between alcohol outlet density and increased levels of alcohol related harm, particularly violence is highly intertwined.

The document cited by the San Diego government generally states:

  • Increased outlet density makes it easier for people to access alcohol influencing how drinkers congregate and fostering instances of aggression.
  • An increase in alcohol outlet density is directly associated with increased underage drinking, instances of assault, homicide, child abuse and neglect, traffic offenses and self inflicted injuries.
  • Alcohol outlet density is the single most common denominator in violent crimes in neighborhoods. It is cited even more than social and economic factors.
  • Youth living in areas with higher alcohol outlet densities have more access to alcohol because alcohol retailers are more likely to sell to minors if other alcohol outlets are nearby.
  • Areas with high violence and crime rates tend to attract alcohol related businesses because it is difficult for other businesses to thrive there.

All the above factors are important when trying to determine why such a high number of bar fights occur in the Gaslamp District. . The district is featured among the top ten most violent neighborhoods in San Diego, with aggravated assault (including bar brawls) making up 2/3 of the violent crime in the year 2011-2012. The number of assault cases has continued to rise in subsequent years making the area notorious for brawling.

The club scene in Gaslamp district is really not different from many other nightlife areas. However, it has taken on a sinister atmosphere with numerous bodies dropping from bar brawls after a night out on the town. Unfortunately, aggression after drinking is a common occurrence among young people in bars. Most believe that their peers expect aggressive behavior to defend themselves, a girlfriend or a friend. In fact, the expectation of aggression is far less than the perpetrator thinks. Sometimes their companions would just prefer to walk away.

If you have been involved in a bar fight in San Diego, you have rights. We have a succesfful track record of reprsenting clients involved in Bar Fights in San Diego, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Oceanside, Escondido, San Marcos, and Temecula. Contact us at 760-994-0480 for a free consultation 24/7.