Training soon to be required to sell booze

SAN MARCOS — It’s long been said that people should drink alcohol responsibly.
Now some of that responsibility will fall on those who serve and sell the alcohol as council voted April 14 to approve a Responsible Beverage Servers ordinance.
San Marcos joins Poway, Solana Beach and National City in its efforts to have anyone who sells alcohol attend a two-hour Alcohol and Beverage Control-certified class to learn such information as how to spot a fake ID, how to decipher someone’s age and how to deal with intoxicated patrons. Other information taught in the class includes methods to refuse service and how to monitor how much alcohol a patron has consumed.
The training would apply to any owner or employee who sells alcohol at any restaurant or retail outlet. The deadlines for existing businesses to complete training is 180 days and new business and employees have 90 days to get certified. Existing businesses will be notified by mail and new businesses will be given a flyer when they pull a business license.
The ordinance requires training certificates for owners, managers and employees and they must be updated every two years.
Deputy City Manager Lydia Romero told council that some benefits of the ordinance to the community are decreased alcohol-related accidents and DUIs, a reduction in sale of alcohol to area youth and a reduction in law enforcement calls.
The ordinance was first presented to the Student and Neighborhood Relations Commission in July 2008 and a final draft was submitted in February 2009. A community workshop was held to get input from as many businesses as possible using the city’s business license database and the Chamber of Commerce’s mailing list.
Mayor Jim Desmond asked whether the ordinance would apply to anyone who serves alcohol at a special event. Romero said that there is a shorter version of the training available for those who don’t serve alcohol in their occupation.
Celeste Young, a prevention specialist with North Inland Community Prevention Program, addressed council in favor of the ordinance. “Many other service sectors require certification and training,” Young said. “Hairstylists, manicurists, food handlers. So why not the gatekeepers of alcohol?”
Young cited statistics from the Sheriff’s Department to show council why the ordinance is needed. She said that from 2002 to 2006, the number of alcohol-related vehicle collisions in San Marcos doubled from 9 percent to 18 percent of accidents. Countywide, the number of alcohol-related collisions has remained flat at around 14 percent. Young said that with the increasing student population in the area, chances are good that those numbers will increase.
One resident addressed the council in favor of the ordinance to say that she and her neighbors in an area near Cal State San Marcos have witnessed many fights in their neighborhood and she pleaded with the council to do something to help curb the violence.
The ordinance was approved unanimously.

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