By Valeria Llerenas, Leilannie Chavez and Jose Rodriguez
It’s time to improve the health, safety, cleanliness and family-friendly community atmosphere of Imperial Beach.
As members of the South Bay Youth 4 Change, we recently conducted an assessment of almost two dozen retailers that sell liquor in IB, and we have some suggestions on how to reach this goal. The first thing we have to do is get the local liquor stores, mini-marts, convenience stores, markets and drug stores to abide by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control rules.
One of the biggest surprises was the number of stores that had their front windows covered with alcoholic beverage signs and ads announcing the latest specials. The ABC rules say that only one-third of the front windows can be covered. That’s to protect the community as well as the store employees. It allows for law enforcement to see in from the outside in case there is a robbery or any other illegal activity happening.
That’s a quick and easy fix that we hope all retailers can implement right away.
We found out by talking to employees that some stores didn’t know they were out of compliance, some didn’t know what the regulations were, and some knew but ignored them completely.
Graffiti, litter, open containers and signs of vandalism were just some of the things we saw. State law says that the business owners are responsible for clean-up. That’s another quick fix that would go a long way in making us proud of our neighborhoods.
We know single-size alcohol bottles like the ones they sell on airplanes are legal. But we ask that our Imperial Beach stores not sell them. They are easy for kids to steal and encourage binge drinking.
It wasn’t all bad news as we canvassed the neighborhood. All of the stores that sell alcohol had the proper signs required by the ABC. We found no one loitering and drinking alcohol on the premises, and we were even asked to leave when one store owner noticed us underage teens in the liquor section.
Most of the businesses we checked were not 100 percent in compliance with state laws and ABC rules. We respectfully ask all business owners who sell alcohol to achieve full compliance and will be making the rounds again to check on their progress.
We appreciate their efforts to be responsible, family-friendly businesses. We all have a role to play in improving our community and want to work with retailers toward that mutual goal.
South Bay Youth 4 Change advocates for the safety of our community and gets students involved. This is important because we want our community to be safer so that children do not come into any contact with alcoholic beverages.
The authors are Mar Vista High School students in Imperial Beach, members of the South Bay Youth 4 Change and trained as advocates to educate the community about the risks of drugs and underage drinking and how they can be prevented.
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