Concentration of bars, liquor stores negatively impacts health of area residents
Speaker 1: (00:00)
The holiday season is known for bright lights, family, friends, and good times. Unfortunately, it's also known for too much of a good time. DUI arrests, traditionally spike during the holidays in San Diego fatalities this year from DUI crashes have already reached a 20 year high. It's no sea secret that some communities have a higher concentration of liquor stores and liquor sales outlets than others. And that's an inequity and a potential danger that the alcohol policy panel of San Diego is hoping to address during its annual meeting tomorrow. Joining me to talk about how this issue affects San Diego is Catherine pat she's co-director for city health and key speaker of the alcohol policy planning meeting. Katherine, welcome to the program.
Speaker 2: (00:48)
Thank you so much, Maureen. So happy to be here
Speaker 1: (00:50)
With you also joining us as David Shorey he's Institute for public strategies, program director for east county. David. Welcome. Thank you. So Katherine, give us an idea of the problems that this alcohol policy panel will be examining during tomorrow's meeting.
Speaker 2: (01:07)
Alcohol use is a major determinant of people's health. And as you mentioned, Maureen, in your opening, it can be deadly. You know, alcohol contributes to over a hundred thousand deaths in the us per year. Alcohol can also impact our health in a number, different ways from increasing your cancer risk and heart disease to leading to more motor vehicle crashes and even a higher homicide and suicide rate. I always think it's interesting to think about the cost associated with alcohol excessive alcohol use can cost the us 249 billion in 2010, and this is mostly related to binge drinking.
Speaker 1: (01:45)
So David then what areas in San Diego are we seeing a higher concentration of bars and liquor stores?
Speaker 3: (01:53)
Well, what we can say is that across the county, out of the 628 census tracks, which is how the ABC issues licenses that 308 are over concentrated. That means that they've been given a number of licenses to have, and those licenses have been exceeded, and that is both or off sale licenses, meaning purchases at a liquor store that you would then take offsite to your home. And then 215 on sale census tracks are over concentrated and that's ours restaurants and those kinds of areas. So we're seeing across the county over concentration in, uh, quite a few, you know, you think of the areas that are more inclined to have ours and liquor stores, entertainment areas, but we also see it in the rural areas as well. For example, in east, the area of cost or the area of spring valley, the area of lemon Grove all have areas which are over concentrated and have contributed to increases in both crime, but also public health impacts as well.
Speaker 1: (02:58)
And the types of stores that can sell alcohol have expanded in recent years, David haven't, they I've seen several convenience stores add alcohol to their inventory.
Speaker 3: (03:08)
Alcohol is something that makes money. And so we understand that in the economy, as it is with COVID and also the insecurity of where we're going, that businesses will wanna improve their financial lines so that they can continue to survive. But in reality, what we've seen is that when you have an impact, like over concentration has on communities, it actually hurts businesses. Uh, businesses tend to wanna appeal to the most public, the, the greatest number of folks coming into their, and you'll see things like selling of high alcohol, uh, beverages, single serve those kinds of things, which you don't normally use when you're having a house party or you're having a beer or a cocktail after work. And so those kinds of things impact public health, public safety, and overall business health. Katherine,
Speaker 1: (04:00)
Do we find a direct link between the number of liquor outlets in a community and a higher rate of crime?
Speaker 2: (04:07)
Absolutely. As I talked a little bit earlier, people are pretty familiar with the individual health effects of alcohol use, but surprisingly, um, many folks may not be aware that the placement and number of stores in cell alcohol can also make a huge difference in the health of a community. So for example, neighborhoods that have these high concentrations of stores have been linked with an increase in individual drinking habits, including young people who then engage in binge drinking. And then second studies have found that communities that have these high concentrations of alcohol outlet also have increased rates of violence and violent crime. So even after you account for things like poverty and gang violence neighborhoods that have more of these alcohol outlets tend to see more homicides, aggravated assault, sexual assault, and robberies committed on their streets.
Speaker 1: (04:59)
And David, according to public policy, it's not only criminal behavior. That's connected to having a lot of bars and liquor stores in a neighborhood. It has, as you alluded to a negative economic impact on the community, can you explain how that
Speaker 3: (05:12)
Works? Certainly. So when you have over concentration of alcohol retailers say you have a business district that has multiple bars, multiple liquor stores, multiple corner markets. And that seems to be the dominant business activity there. Then it tends to not be a welcoming area perception wise. So the, uh, liquor stores, the corner markets, et cetera, will crowd out. They'll attract a certain, um, clientele that maybe, uh, other business owners don't necessarily wanna attract the overall physical and, um, environmental condition of where this is, has a tendency to downgrade. And so, um, you see in communities that have these over concentration that, um, you know, there's less public investment, there's less revitalization that happens. And, um, people tend to not wanna visit these therefore not investing their money in these communities.
Speaker 1: (06:14)
So, Kathryn, what do we do about this? Is this cycle of more liquor outlets, crowding out other businesses in communities? Is that one of the equity issues that you are trying to solve?
Speaker 2: (06:25)
Absolutely. I think most importantly, cities can do something about this. And I think it's really interesting to note that San Diego specifically, um, is doing something around SARE alcohol sales. So I work with a group called city health that actually looks at a number of different policies that impact the health and wellness of residents. And one of the policies that we look at specifically is SARE alcohol sales. So in terms of our criteria, San Diego has currently earned a silver in this category, which is fan fantastic. However, they could get to gold. And if cities have the authority limiting the density of alcohol stores and regulating the sales can have a significant impact on residents, safety, wellbeing, and health. So there are opportunities for improvement. And we always encourage folks to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, if they want more information about how to do just that.
Speaker 1: (07:21)
And Catherine, as an example, lemon Grove, which was mentioned as one of these over concentrated areas with liquor stores and liquor outlets, the city council there recently denied a liquor license to a convenience store because they said there are too many liquor outlets in their community. Is that the kind of action that you're looking for? That's
Speaker 2: (07:41)
Absolutely right. I think when appropriate and when possible making good choices based on evidence based policy is exactly what we're trying to encourage folks to do. I think the other thing Maureen that's important to mention is how do residents feel about the inclusion of liquor with in this corner store? Is the city taking into account what residents would like to see? Because I think that's what we've seen for decades in red line communities, where we tend to see these clusters of alcohol outlets within communities of color and also low income communities. Residents should have a choice about who and what is sold within their particular community. And
Speaker 1: (08:21)
I've been speaking with Catherine Patterson, co-director of city health and key speaker at tomorrow's alcohol policy panel meeting and with David Surey Institute for public strategies, program director for east county, Catherine and David. Thank you so much.
Speaker 2: (08:36)
Thank you so much, Maureen. It's been a pleasure. Thank you, Maureen.
In San Diego this year, fatalities from DUI-related crashes are spiking, with this year's total marking the highest number of fatal DUI’s in two decades. In addition to increasing DUI rates, alcohol sales are at an all-time high. Some communities have a higher concentration of businesses that sell alcohol than others, which is causing inequity and a potential danger to community members.
The Alcohol Policy Panel of San Diego County is hosting its annual meeting Friday, and will discuss the negative impacts of an increased amount of alcohol outlets around the county.
Catherine Patterson, co-director for CityHealth and the keynote speaker at the Alcohol Policy Panel meeting, and David Shorey, East County program director for Institute for Public Strategies joined KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday to talk about how alcohol outlet density impacts San Diegans.
"Many folks may not be aware that the placement and numbers of stores that sell alcohol can also make a huge difference in the health of a community," Patterson said. "Neighborhoods that have these high concentrations of stores, have been linked with an increase of individual drinking habits, including young people who then engage in binge drinking. Second, studies have found that communities that have these high concentrations of alcohol outlets also have increased rates of violence and violent crime."
Shorey said we are seeing an overconcentration of bars and liquor stores in many parts of the county.
"You think of the areas that are more inclined to have bars, liquor stores in entertainment areas, but we also see it in the rural areas as well," Shorey said. "For example in East County, the area of Casa de Oro, the area of Spring Valley, the area of Lemon Grove, all have areas which are overconcentrated, and have contributed to increases in ... crime, but also public health impacts."
He said it also has a negative impact on equity as well.
"When you have overconcentration of alcohol retailers, say you have a business district that has multiple bars, multiple liquor stores, multiple corner markets and that seems to be the dominant business activity there, it tends to not be a welcoming area perception wise. The liquor stores, the corner markets, etc., will crowd out, and they'll attract a certain clientele that maybe other business owners don't want to attract," Shorey said. "You see in communities that have these overconcentration, that there's less public investment, there's less revitalization that happens, and people tend to not want to visit these, therefore, not investing their money in these communities."
Patterson said San Diego has earned a silver medal from CityHealth's Safer Alcohol Sales Medal Criteria, but can still work towards a higher ranking of gold by limiting the density of alcohol stores and regulating sales.