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Belmont Shore divided over drinking

June 14, 2009 |  7:51 am

Smarting from disturbances caused by rowdy bar patrons, a fashionable enclave in eastern Long Beach has become engulfed in a squabble between homeowners and business leaders over how to control the summer onslaught of customers who represent an economic benefit to the community and the city.

The Belmont Shore Residents Assn. wants an increased police presence along a 14-block stretch of 2nd Street to deal with the noise and violent behavior that can erupt as revelers retrieve their cars on neighborhood streets. Merchants and bar owners, however, say they are taking steps to police themselves and the customers attracted to the area's late-night party scene.

A focus of controversy is Mike Ruehle, president of the residents association and primary writer for its newsletters and blogs, which routinely make accusations against business owners and city officials, most of them vigorously denied. The retired engineering firm manager said he devotes "14 hours a day, six days a week" to the task of making bar owners more responsible for the behavior of their customers.

--Louis Sahagun in Long Beach