Study Says Pasadena Has High Density of Alcohol Retailers

The study found 21% of Pasadena teens have used alcohol in the last 30 days.

Published : Wednesday, December 18, 2013 | 5:57 AM

One decision changed Nick Nevarez’s life forever. He chose to go to a party and get in a car with drunk driver who got in a severe car accident. After the accident, half of Nick’s skull was missing and the doctors declared him dead on arrival.

Nick survived the car crash and now has a 45 percent prosthetic skull. With his “second chance at life” he has spoken to thousands of young people about the real consequences involved with substance abuse. Nick told his story at a press conference held to release a new study on alcohol in the San Gabriel Valley.

Pasadena ranked both the worst and the best in the San Gabriel Valley in a recently completed study called “Alcohol and Your City” by RAD: Rethinking Alcohol and other Drugs that found 21 percent of Pasadena teens have used alcohol in the last 30 days.

“What is being done here is really groundbreaking work. It’s the kind of work that will move the ball forward in the fight against all the consequences of drugs and alcohol,” Pasadena Public Health Director Dr. Eric Walsh said.

In an attempt to bring at least one critical voice to the commercials and television shows that make alcohol “cool” and appear to be “more important than anything else,” several groups across the San Gabriel Valley banded together to make a report card that graded each city based on several alcohol factors.

With the high concentration of restaurants and liquor stores in Pasadena and relatively small population, Pasadena ranked last of the 26 San Gabriel Valley cites for having the most alcohol retailers per capita. Pasadena also had a significantly higher amount of alcohol-involved collisions than the region, with 47 alcohol-involved collisions.

However, Pasadena’s long history of using local measure to mitigate the impact of alcohol use ranked Pasadena as number one in having the most effective ordinances in place.

“We have the highest score in the whole San Gabriel Valley in active policies. That score is important because that means that we are proactively really trying to change things, to reduce the risks to children, to youth and to families, and to everybody else who comes to this town. But we can still do more,” Dr. Walsh said.

The city currently has adopted a Conditional Use Permit, Deemed Approved and Alcohol Overlay District policies which all have special zoning requirements that try to minimize the overuse of alcohol.

The study noted three recommendations that could further improve Pasadena’s Alcohol Use and Alcohol Density grades.

“We’re looking at things like a social host ordinance, where someone hosts a party at their house and underage people drink, and when those underage people drinks and drives, and something happens, the host is at least in part responsible,” Dr. Walsh said.

Walsh also realized that many of the alcohol related collisions result from heavy drinking at the Rose Bowl and asked if there is a way that to make it more difficult for people to drink heavily at the game and then just drive into the streets.

The study asked Pasadena to consider placing a freeze on adding Off-Sale Alcohol retailers, such as liquor stores. The City Council recently took one small step toward ridding the most concentrated area of the city, northwest Pasadena, of these “nuisance properties” in an adopted revision to the inclusionary housing ordinance.

“It is amazing report and it really does help the residents, the community leaders, community organizations as well as policy makers in their understanding of the problem and in recommendations on how to address the problem,” Walsh said.

This study will kick start intensified education campaigns in the City by Day One, who helped complete the study as part of the RAD Coalition in combination with the Pasadena Public Health Department.

The RAD Coalition is made up of several organizations who contributed to the study including Pasadena Public Health Department, Day One, Jewish Family Service, Los angeles County Office of Education, NCADD, Pacific Clinics and Prototypes.

The speakers at a press conference identified that the hope is to begin a dialogue around excessive alcohol consumption and underage alcohol consumption that will lead to change.

The RAD group urges families to “rethink your drink” over the holiday season and try a Cranberry Sparkler instead:

Gather: 1 1/2 ounces Blackberry Puree
2 ounces white cranberry juice
2 to 3 ounces sparkling water
1 sprig mint, for garnish
Mix: Place blackberry puree and
cranberry juice in a champagne flute.
Add sparkling water to fill. Garnish with mint.

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