Task force focuses on small alcohol bottles, over-serving

The Huntington Beach Downtown Task Force is shifting its attention to the influence of sales of small bottles of alcohol on the problems in the area.

The committee Thursday asked City Atty. Jennifer McGrath to see if banning sales of the 1-ounce bottles of liquor at convenience stores has worked to curb problems elsewhere in the state.

"I have seen these little bottles all over the parking structure," task force member Moe Kanoudi said. "If you're driving [into downtown] on a Sunday morning, from the night before there are lots of these bottles all over."

Kanoudi added that he initially brought this topic up at one of the first meetings of the group because he believes that the bars and restaurants in the area are not all to blame, that liquor stores contribute to the alcohol problem downtown as well.

McGrath cautioned the group that banning businesses in the area from selling the budget booze bottles could be a "constitutional issue of interfering with the Commerce Clause. I'd have to do some research," she said.

Councilman Joe Carchio said other cities have banned the small bottles.

"Just because it's been adopted doesn't mean it hasn't been challenged," McGrath said.

Sacramento County recently considered an ordinance that would bar new liquor stores from selling the small bottles of alcohol and single beers, according to CBS.


Over-serving of patrons

In other task force news Thursday, the committee went into a lengthy discussion about how to address the problem of restaurants and bars over-serving patrons.

Councilwoman Connie Boardman noted that Police Chief Ken Small has said the over-serving of drinkers is a problem downtown.

Carchio added that downtown Huntington Beach suffers from the nearness of the establishments to one another, unlike in other cities. He said the short distance from one business to another allows patrons to bar hop and get multiple drinks from numerous places.

"Here, you're just walking around and just having drinks as you go along," he said.

Councilman Jim Katapodis asked Huntington Beach Police Capt. Russell Reinhart if any citations had been given to bar owners for over-serving.

Reinhart said none has been issued because of the difficulty in pinning down the particular business at fault and trying to determine if other factors are behind a person's level of intoxication.

"I think we all agree that the bars don't want to over-serve, they don't want to lose money, they don't want to get in trouble," he said. "But there's so many variables, [like] drugs being mixed in.

"If somebody has a couple drinks and takes a Percocet, that person's going to be a lot different than a person that's just had two drinks…. There's no exact science on this."

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