After the Richmond City Council passed DROC’s resolution in November 2020, students set out to create a toolkit to act as a guide for others to use to do similar work in their respective communities.
This toolkit details the knowledge we had to gain to do the work towards challenging and thereby amending current state preemptive law. Included is how we drafted and passed a resolution acknowledging the issues with state preemptive laws and how limiting current California alcohol laws are at the local level.
After completing this toolkit, we plan to share it with other alcohol prevention groups in order to assist them with passing similar resolutions in their city. With the support of multiple cities behind us, we hope to make it clear to our state lawmakers that this issue isn’t just a local issue in Richmond, but in cities across the state.
Later this year, we hope to begin meeting with other local and state legislators to open the discussion on state preemptive law over alcohol sales regulation. We want to begin the path towards healthier communities for all by highlighting the challenges that come with the limiting control at the local level over alcohol sales regulation.
We hope to begin a statewide team effort to advocate for the amending of current laws regarding local alcohol control and help build healthier communities for all!
After encountering a setback with the proposed city-wide single sales ban due to preemptive state law back in 2018, DROC students set on a project to first learn more about what it is for themselves. With the help of Joan, DROC’s program coordinator, the students learned about what preemption meant, its applications in different sectors and levels of law and policies, and the history of preemptive state law as it related to the regulation of alcohol sales. In understanding it themselves, they can begin to educate and inform their larger community to gain the community support they need to eventually bring back the issue of preemptive state law in alcohol sales regulation to the city council.
In addition to learning about state preemption, the students researched data on their local community to learn how preemptive state law has affected their community through health outcomes and the state of their current alcohol landscape. After understanding state preemption and their community’s history with alcohol, the students proceeded to draft their resolution. In this resolution, the DROC students incorporated the data they gathered previously. This included the dangers of alcohol consumption, its impact on the community and increased violence, the history of alcohol outlets setting up shop in Richmond due to the industrialization of the area, racist housing policies, and how alcohol access can influence youth behavior and attitudes. After a couple of revisions and edits by Joan, the resolution was ready to be submitted to the city council’s staff.
Fortunately, DROC had prior contact with the current mayor’s staff and was able to hand off that resolution to be submitted to the city council agenda in March 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and priorities had to be reorganized to address the community’s immediate concerns over their health during the pandemic. Subsequently, the city council pushed DROC’s resolution back to the November 2020 agenda.
With the resolution on the agenda, Joan and the DROC students began drafting public comments to be submitted to the city clerk’s office or to be read aloud during the city council meeting. Joan encouraged the students to write about the impact of alcohol on their lives and community and how they feel about the increased accessibility compared to neighboring cities. At the city council meeting, 3 DROC youth spoke, while a handful of others submitted written public comments. On November 10, 2020, the city council unanimously voted to adopt our resolution supporting future amendments to current state alcohol regulation for communities to address the alcohol accessibility in their communities! This brought DROC students a step closer to bringing back more local control over their community’s alcohol landscape.
To view our resolution, head to the Resources page to read over it. While you’re there, take a look at a template to pass a similar one in your city!
In 2016, a group of community members working on alcohol prevention met regularly over a period of three months engaging in dialogue with other stakeholders in the community to discuss the issues with alcohol in the city of Richmond.
From these conversations, one objective was clear: safer streets in Richmond. In order to get to a safer Richmond, the community needed to tackle the issues that folks saw related to alcohol. Community members commented on the loitering and public alcohol consumption throughout the city, while police officers mentioned that many of their calls for service were near a handful of liquor stores and related to public drinking and single sales beverages. As such, this group decided to research the role of single sale alcoholic beverages. In surveying local stores, they found that single sale beverages make up as much as 58% of refrigerated shelf space in stores. They also found that research shows that areas with higher rates of single serve alcoholic beverages are linked to poorer public health and increased violence and crime. In addition, according to data provided by the Richmond police department, between May 2017 and April 2018, there were a total of 5,929 calls for service that were made to just ten liquor stores in Richmond for crimes within 500 feet–114 of these calls being for violent crimes.
The Alcohol, Marijuana, and Prescription Drugs coalition (AMPD), who at the time was just a rapid action team for alcohol prevention, mobilized community members and other stakeholders to present the negative impact that the presence of single sales beverages brings and how harmful these beverages could be towards youth to the Richmond city council. Using “The Impact of Retail Practices on Violence: The Case of Single Serve Alcohol Beverage Containers by Robert Nash Parker and Kevin McCaffree, they followed the steps in the research study and applied it to off-sale alcohol outlets in Richmond in order to build their case for implementing a single sales ban ordinance in the city.
Despite the Richmond city council agreeing with their proposition to initiate a single sales ban throughout the city, they were unfortunately prevented from doing so, due to preemptive state law. Because of this, the city of Richmond had no authority to control the sale of single sales at the local level. Despite the support and efforts by the local community, the proposal was eventually sidelined. This setback opened the door for the current work challenging the preemptive nature of alcohol laws in the state of California. To read more on what happened after this and about the current work, check out the articles, “Richmond Resolution” and “Current Work”.