By Xavier Flores, AOD Project Director, Pueblo y Salud, Inc.
On Sept. 2, 2015, the Palmdale City Council took the first step in adopting strong alcohol control policy that has the potential for reducing alcohol availability in certain areas of the city. These areas are experiencing serious alcohol-related problems. The most salient of these is the high incidence of violent crime which is 12 times the city norm in some of the same locations where alcohol outlets are the densest.
Whether or not the new policy changes will have any impact at all or whether they will go the way of so many policies previously adopted by the City Council we have yet to see.
The Palmdale Prevention Community Council (PCC) which has overseen the policy advocacy effort for the past 2.5 years has every intention of seeing this effort through to its fruition. Now that the first step has been accomplished, it plans to encourage the development and implementation of a program intended to outreach to and educate the alcohol retailer as well as the community as a whole. It also aims to ensure enforcement of all alcohol-related policies, be it federal, state or local.
The intent of future environmental prevention efforts is to provide all 150 alcohol retailers in the city with the knowledge and training to serve alcohol in the most responsible way possible. In this way, the PCC intends to work with local business in a partnership that should ultimately benefit business as well as the community.
Funding for this project will hopefully come from a fee that will be charged to the alcohol retailer. This will happen only if there is political will on the part of City Council. The fee can be structured in tiers according to the amount and time that alcohol is sold. For example, a restaurant that sells a minimum amount of alcohol only as incidental to the sale of food might fall under tier one and would pay the lowest fee. On the other hand, a bar/nightclub whose sale of alcohol is primary, which sells only alcohol and no food, may be charged the highest fee amount.
Since one of the main objectives is to create good business partners, it will be part and parcel of future efforts to recognize and commend exemplary businesses that demonstrate a genuine interest in the welfare of the community and go about their business in the most responsible manner possible.
There have been a few detractors who believe these efforts are anti-business and others who believe we cannot reduce alcohol consumption and the resulting problems. Though it is true that these efforts have focused to benefit the youth of our city, it is clear that they have the potential to impact positively on all of us. A safer and healthier community is better for everyone including business. Whether these efforts are successful will depend immensely, almost exclusively, on the support of the community.
The Prevention Community Council asks for your continued support. Together we can make our communities healthier and safer places to live, work and recreate.
For this reason, we encourage your attendance and support at the next City Council meeting on Oct. 7, at 7 p.m., during which a final reading of the proposed ordinance will take place.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The AV Times.
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