City Council: SPPD & ABC making an impact on illegal alcohol sales

January 21, 2003
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesThe Santa Paula Police Department and state Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) have been making good use of a grant to crack down on offenders, the City Council learned at the Jan. 6th meeting.City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz noted that several citizens and council members have expressed concerns over several specific bars.Police Chief Bob Gonzales said the $43,931 ABC grant has resulted in “shoulder tap and decoy operations” the former targeting those who purchase alcohol for minors and the latter focusing on direct sales to same.“We were able to hire a program manager who works with the police and the community and, most importantly, the people in the business of selling alcohol,” offering education programs.Crime in bars has been “significant” and ongoing, Chief Gonzales noted, including at Ruben’s Lounge, where victims of the first and last homicides of 2002 had been drinking.“Unfortunately, several bars didn’t pay attention to the classes,” and have been cited for illegal sales, among other infractions, he added.In one case, the person “shoulder tapped” was under 18 years old carrying a false identification and another case had a 15-year-old clerk selling alcohol.Special enforcement teams have visited bars where “B Girls” solicit drinks - and other commodities - for inflated prices.
In recent months, 38 arrests related to ABC violations, seven citations and 18 decoy and 12 shoulder tap operations have occurred.“My desire is to close establishments that do this on a regular basis,” to lead to stiffer penalties and closure of the worst offenders, said Chief Gonzales, including notification of bar property owners. “We mean business about trying to close their doors,” although such investigations can be protracted.Seventy percent of city homicides since 1980 have been alcohol related, with the victim, suspect or both being intoxicated.Chief Gonzales said the city has closed only one bar for violations in two decades; another moved the front door of the establishment to alter the address.Ruben’s Lounge, targeted for enforcement, has no Conditional Use Permit but was grandfathered in, and police are “in the process of doing whatever we can to restrict, limit and curtail,” illegal activities.Councilman Rick Cook noted that the owner of the property “really wants to talk,” about the Ruben’s situation.Tom Bartlett, planning director, said that the city has been working to curtail on-site liquor licenses, and only one has been granted in two years.Bobkiewicz commended local law enforcement, noting that “Chief Gonzales has recommitted himself to aggressively policing the community,” which, with the council, will be receiving more regular updates on crime fighting efforts.

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.