On April 21, the Coalition to Prevent Alcohol-Related Harms in LA Metro (CoPalm) hosted a community forum, “Boyle Heights: Not One More Liquor Store,” at the Resurrection Church in Los Angeles. Over 60 people attended the event to discuss substance abuse prevention and control, in an effort to reduce alcohol-related crimes in the L.A. Metro area.

“We can learn a lot from Boyle Heights because they have a long history addressing alcohol issues in their community,” said Sam Joo, KYCC Director of Children and Family Services. “Boyle Heights shows other communities the importance of engaged residents as community change agents.”

Multiple community leaders spoke at the event, including Social Model Recovery Systems Community Organizer Dina Cruz, Los Angeles City Council District 14 Field Deputy Franklin Ochoa and Hollenback Neighborhood Prosecutor Cynthia Gonzalez. They addressed the importance of keeping the neighborhood safe, working together to build a family-friendly community and measures that residents can take to ensure that neighborhood liquor stores are law abiding.

Residents also gave testimonies and asked everybody to take part in this initiative.

“I won’t be afraid and hide behind my walls,” said Terry Marquez, a Boyle Heights resident. “I want to enjoy my community. I know I can’t do it alone.”

Other community members also called to end the oversaturation of liquor stores in their neighborhood. Nidia Gonzalez shared her concerns about raising her children in a neighborhood where liquor stores are ubiquitous. Resident Roberto Mata suggested allocating funds to create youth programs.

According to the Census, Boyle Heights’ total population is 86,349. However, 48 Beer and Wine On-Sale licenses were issued (about one per 1699 residents vs the recommended one per 2000, according to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC)) and 59 Beer and Wine Off-Sale licenses were issued (about one per 1382 residents vs the recommended one per 2500). The results show that Boyle Heights’ alcohol outlet density is oversaturated.

CoPalm started in 2013, when a group of prevention organizations mobilized to reduce harms around alcohol use, especially among youth. In 2015, the coalition (funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Substance Abuse and Prevention and Control division) chose to focus specifically on alcohol-outlet density, after realizing how pervasive this problem is and how it impacts all of the communities (Downtown, Boyle Heights, Hollywood, Northeast, Koreatown, Pico Union, and Westlake) that they serve.

KYCC is the lead organization for the coalition. The coalition also includes: Behavioral Health Services; Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Prevention and Treatment Services; Institute for Public Strategies, West Hollywood Project; Jewish Family Services; Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Community Health Services-Metro L.A.; and Social Model Recovery, United Coalition East (UCEPP).