In an effort to halt what Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner branded as "open-air drug swap meets," the county Board of Supervisors on Thursday voted to establish curbs on criminal activities at liquor stores.
On a 3-2 vote, the board ordered the county's Regional Planning Commission to draft new restrictions--patterned after those in effect in Los Angeles and other cities--that would enable officials to revoke the business licenses of liquor stores that are found to be havens for drug trafficking, prostitution, gambling and other criminal activity.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday December 14, 1985 Home Edition Main News Part 1 Page 2 Column 2 Metro Desk 2 inches; 51 words Type of Material: Correction
In a story appearing in Friday's editions, The Times incorrectly reported that under proposed county regulations, business licenses of liquor stores could be revoked if the stores were found to be havens for criminal activity. Actually, the measure would provide for revocation of the conditional-use permits liquor stores need to obtain their liquor licenses.
The measure, which would be formulated and subjected to hearings by the Planning Commission before coming to the supervisors for final action, could affect as many as 830 liquor stores or markets that sell beer and wine in the county's unincorporated areas.
Schabarum, Dana Opposed
Supervisors Pete Schabarum and Deane Dana opposed the countywide proposal as expensive and unnecessary, arguing that the crime problems are concentrated in only a few areas.
While officials said they have not determined exactly where the restrictions would have the most impact, at least four problem areas were identified by Supervisors Kenneth Hahn and Mike Antonovich, both of whom supported the curb plan. These include the Willowbrook and Florence-Firestone areas near South-Central Los Angeles, the Lennox area near Los Angeles International Airport, and Altadena.
The Florence-Firestone area has the largest concentration of liquor stores, about 85, in the county's unincorporated territory, said Ron Hoffman, a regional planner. The area also has the second-largest per capita ratio of stores--one liquor store for every 706 people--he added.
Reiner, a longtime foe of liquor store proliferation, reminded the board that as Los Angeles city attorney in 1983 he had championed similar regulations that eventually were implemented first in South-Central Los Angeles and, earlier this year, extended citywide.
Similar restrictions have been implemented in Lynwood and Santa Monica.
"There are certain types of liquor stores that act as centers of crime," Reiner said, "where prostitutes are trolling for tricks, where there is consumption of alcohol around the premises . . . where the liquor stores will set up furniture in the parking lots, sell individual cups for drinks and use their cash registers as banks for the gambling.
"(The liquor stores) attract crime just as garbage attracts flies," Reiner said.
Reiner said that with new zoning regulations, existing liquor stores would face the loss of their business licenses if officials could show that activity outlawed by conditional use permits was prevalent. New liquor store use permits would be granted only after public hearings were held to determine if the proposed store would negatively affect surrounding neighborhoods.
On a separate 3-2 vote, the board rejected a Hahn-Antonovich move to ban the sale of beer and wine at gas stations.