Response to Mayor Carchio: Good first step, but more needs to be done about downtown

By Angela Rainsberger

Editor: Rainsberger is the director of Huntington Beach Neighbors.

Dear Mayor Carchio:

Thank you for the letter regarding your proposed solutions to reduce the DUI fatalities coming from the downtown establishments. I believe this is a step in the right direction to reduce the DUIs and I hope that we will see some meaningful reduction over time. I believe the key is to make certain that these voluntary suggestions become requirements of entertainment permits as they come up for renewal or as new EP are issued.

In addition for new restaurants it is important to find a way to add restrictions to the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to prevent restaurants from morphing into bars. I expect you will see far less protests and activism from citizen groups in the downtown if we can insure that a restaurant stays a restaurant.

There are other cities in Orange County that have areas of heavy concentration of establishments serving alcohol who have found ways to manage the consumption to reduce the risks to life and quality of life. I would encourage you to meet with the city staff of Fullerton who crafted their successful ordinances and policies to understand what has worked for them.

In addition to your bulleted suggestions, I would add the following requirements:

  • No drink specials should be sold after midnight. This would include redemption of coupons such as the ones being sold on Groupon for two times the value of anything purchased. A managed decrease in the volume of alcohol consumed after midnight will decrease the level of intoxication at 2 am.
  • Maintain a full listing of establishments with the details of their entertainment permit restrictions, allowances, occupancies, and closing times to be used as a planning tool and reviewed in total, before any new establishment or any entertainment permit renewals are approved. Adjust closing times to stagger them as entertainment permits come up for renewal. This will reduce the 2 am flood of intoxicated drivers into the streets, by batching them in smaller more manageable groups, that the police will better be able to control.
  • Work with BID to increase the number of cabs available at night; as a cab shortage is a current problem. Taxi vouchers add no value if one must wait for an hour in a taxi queue.
  • Drinks need to be served to the person who will be consuming the drink. Currently there are establishments where drinks for large groups can be ordered by a single person at the bar and then carried back to a group. This prevents the servers from being able to apply the RBS/TIPS training and ABC max drink limitation or to monitor the ratio of drink per person. Require that the serve can verify that drinks are being sold are at the 1:1 ratio per order.
  • Require restaurants to clearly post occupancy permits for each area of their establishments (sidewalk patios, back patios, inside dining room and balconies) so that the police can clearly see when the occupancy of a given area has been exceeded. Currently, many establishments are not posting their patio max occupancy signs and in the evening hours are clearing tables and chairs off the patios and converting the patios to standing room areas with significantly more people than allowed. By posting these signs clearly the police will be able to quickly identify when occupancies have been exceeded.
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