WeHo City Council Agrees, with Some Reluctance, to Better Monitor Alcohol Consumption

West Hollywood, a city whose 47 alcohol outlets per 10,000 residents makes it the most saturated in Los Angeles County, will create the position of alcohol liaison officer and will develop a campaign to encourage people to make smart choices around consumption of alcohol and other drugs.

The City Council agreed to establish the position and the campaign at its meeting last night, although Councilmember John Duran expressed some discomfort with the idea.

The alcohol liaison officer (ALO) would be a member of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station. The officer would be tasked with making regular visits to bars and liquor stores to get to know their staffs and offer guidance on complying with the law. The ALO also would review new alcohol business applications (there currently are 26 in the pipeline) and conduct intial inspections of prospective venues. If the ALO found repeated violations of the law, he or she would advise the city’s Code Compliance Office or the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.

The alcohol consumption campaign would be aimed at local residents and businesses and visitors.

“The ultimate goal of the campaign is to encourage individuals to make responsible choices around alcohol and drug use,” said a presentation by the Safe WeHo Leadership Council. “These would include drinking moderate – not excessive – amounts, arranging for a safe ride home and refraining from rowdy behavior.”

The Safe WeHo Leadership Council was founded in 2016 with assistance from the Institute for Public Strategies (IPS), a public health agency focused on reducing alcohol- and drug-related problems. SWHLC is composed of a variety of people representing local businesses and entertainment establishments, residents and public safety officers among others. Genevieve Morrill, CEO and president of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, spoke in favor of the SWLC proposal last night.

City Councilmember Lauren Meister said she would prefer to use an existing deputy from the entertainment policing team. The entertainment policing team is led by a sergeant and primarily focuses on entertainment- and alcohol-related law enforcement issues. Its members patrol over 90 bars, nightclubs and hotels.

Capt. Sergio Aloma, who heads the WeHo Sheriff’s Station, said he is considering just that and has reached out to other cities with similar programs. The proposed budget for the liaison officer is $275,000. Meister said she thought that was “costly, and we also have homelessness issues that we want to be spending out money on.”

Councilmember Duran said he would support the proposal despite his concern that it could “overly mother” those who drink and party in WeHo.

“It always seems to be contradictory that on one hand we create an entire local economy based on nightclubs and night life and bars and tourism, at the same time we try to bridle the activity,” Duran said. “(But) my experience has been that it’s always one horse’s ass that ruins everything. Most of the people that go to the clubs whether they are the gay clubs or the clubs on the strip, have a great time, have a great evening, have a good time with friends, don’t cause a problem, don’t drive home drunk, don’t create any havoc with the security or patrons, most of the people. But it’s that one or two individuals that want to ruin it for everyone else that I think we’re trying to address.” Duran said those people typically are visitors from out of town.

Councilmember John D’Amico., who also supported naming an alcohol liaison officer, warned: “I also think we don’t want to kill the goose that laid the (golden) egg. We have 90 bars and night clubs and we have 26 licenses asking for approval. That’s a 30% increase, not to mention 15 or so cannabis businesses that will be coming in.”

A report from the Safe WeHo Leadership Council notes there has been a major increase in alcohol establishments in recent years. The report notes the state ABC website shows 237 currently active retail alcohol licenses in West Hollywood (which include those for place where alcohol is consumed on-site, such as bars and restaurants) and those where it is consumer off-site (such as grocery stores and convenience stores.)

That number “has been dramatically increasing in recent years,” the report said. “Since 2001, a total of 174 licenses have been issued, averaging almost 11 per year. In 2014 a total of 43 were added, with considerable increases following in 2015 and 2016.

  1. Since I no longer go up on the strip I cannot comment about the behavior up there other than , thank God the House of Blue is gone. I live down the street from where it was located and from day one it was a neighborhood nuisance. I can comment on two locations that seem to have high emergency response. The first is outside of The Abby. At closing time I see not only the LASD many times but also the LACFD Paramedics. Since the corner of Robertson and Santa Monica Bl. is a mecca for those enjoying night life I am unaware of where those involved have come from.

    The second location however seems to be a problem for the LASD. It is the La Peer side of the former Studio One and primarily on Monday nights. One can see several LASD units parked along the street observing the patrons well past 3:00AM. Said patrons seem to believe double parking is permissible in both directions causing cars to back-up attempting to pass them. What other problems exist is unknown to me but there must be a problem there otherwise I doubt the LASD would devote the excessive resources there.

  2. This position seems so ludicrous to me I finally had to express. $275,000 for an alcohol liaison officer? $275,000 to develop campaign…educate…smart choices? Hasn’t any 16 year old already had classes and discussions in school, at home, media, friends! Aren’t there already boards that oversee applications, departments that visit bars? Aren’t Bar owners already supposed to follow certain regulations/laws? Are there State laws regarding bartenders, alcohol sales.
    Truly, I’m just asking. It seems these responsibilities would already be covered by existing groups, laws, policing….

  3. This is perfect.
    All clubs and bars are required to follow the law and all places are required to close at 2:00 am. It’s time for an Alcohol Liaison Officer to be appointed and now weho is taking action to focus on the peoples safety.

  4. I agree with @Beau. I am not able to enjoy any patio spaces because smoking is allowed there. Even inside, the smoke wafts into the interior spaces so there is no where to escape it.

  5. Let’s tackle smoking instead since smokers unfairly effect the health of non-smokers.
    That’s the better campaign.

  6. The numbers in the last paragraph don’t seem to add up. If there are 237 active retail alcohol licenses currently, and 174 have been issued since 2001, does that mean there were only 63 active licenses in 2000? I doubt the number of licenses has quadrupled. (I went to the ABC’s web site and couldn’t find active license data for that year,) Does the explanation lie in the word “issued?” Some of the licenses “issued” may have replaced licenses held by former businesses at the same location (for example, Revolver’s license replacing the one held by East West). If so, the “174 issued” statistic is definitely a misleading. I am puzzled. Does someone know the answer?

  7. Interesting how you are trying to legislate good behavior. It starts in the home, when you are young children. Councilmember Duran opens his mouth to state his objections and votes for it anyway? I love a man/woman who stands behind his/her convictions Welcome to WeHo, the epitome of the Nanny State. IMO an unnecessary waste of this amount money.

  8. There you have it folks…an entire economy based on nightlife, nightclubs, bars, entertainment & tourism”. And we thought we were a commmunity. Did we miss the turn to to Las Vegas? Bugsy would love ya’. He should be installed as an honorary member of City Council!

  9. “The ultimate goal of the campaign is to encourage individuals to make responsible choices around alcohol and drug use,” said a presentation by the Safe WeHo Leadership Council. “These would include drinking moderate – not excessive – amounts, arranging for a safe ride home and refraining from rowdy behavior.”

    i love this stuff. good luck with this, and any guess on how much city money will be wasted on this ‘campaign’? you build a city with bars and clubs and hotels that have roof top bars and clubs, and collect the assorted taxes and fees associated with these businesses so the city can spend like, dare i say, ‘drunken sailors’ ?
    then you host parades and festivals with alcohol sponsorships …..

  10. WOW!!!
    The city of ALCOHOL. METH. pot. HOME-LESS. and Hillary Clinton.
    The LALA LAND.
    Let’s make sure we have more AA meetings to support our lifestyle and our image….
    Money Talk in “our” city.

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