Updated March 31, 2009 at 8:55 a.m.
Editorial Board, February 2009 through May 2009
- Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
- Brent Boyer, editor
- Mike Lawrence, city editor
- Tom Ross, reporter
- Paul Hughes, community representative
- Gail Smith, community representative
Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or email@example.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.
Editor's note: This editorial has been corrected from its original version. The City Council will vote on a proposed social host ordinance at its April 14 meeting.
A perfect alcohol compliance check last week demonstrated the success city efforts have had in fighting liquor sales to underage consumers, but there's more work to be done. The Steamboat Springs City Council could aid those efforts tremendously by voting in favor of a social host ordinance April 14.
On March 20, all 13 businesses targeted by a Steamboat Springs Police Department alcohol compliance check asked the underage buyers to provide proof of age. The 100 percent compliance rate comes on the heels of a September 2008 investigation in which only one business sold booze to a minor.
What a long way local liquor establishments have come since nine of 11 failed a compliance check in September 2005.
After that pitiful performance, the city took a number of steps to hold liquor license holders accountable for their actions. The most significant step was establishing an administrative hearing process by which violators must appear before a compliance officer and be subject to fines, suspension of their liquor license, or, for repeat offenders, revocation of their liquor license.
Of course, alcohol compliance checks alone aren't enough to significantly reduce the number of local youths who consume alcohol before they're of age.
In 2008, for example, Steamboat Springs police cited more than 150 minors for consuming or possessing alcohol.
Groups such as the Youth Wellness Initiative, Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, Partners in Routt County, the Steamboat Springs Police Department and others continue to focus on outreach programs addressing youth alcohol and substance abuse. Many local restaurants and liquor stores are emphasizing alcohol responsibility training for their employees. There are, no doubt, other efforts being made throughout the community to convince teens to make healthy and legal lifestyle choices.
The next step in the fight against underage alcohol consumption and the dangerous repercussions it can have for our youths and community is passage of a social host ordinance. On April 14, supporters of the ordinance will lobby the City Council to adopt an enforcement technique that would allow police to fine adults who knowingly let minors drink alcohol on their property. The ordinance previously failed by a 3-3 council vote in December.
This time, a full City Council should not blow the opportunity to send a message to the community that underage drinking will not be tolerated.
A social host ordinance would help our police officers crack down on the frequent house parties where parents allow or even encourage drinking to take place.
It is not OK for other parents to determine what type of behavior is acceptable for your children. Citing those parents and subjecting them to fines and the scorn of the community could be the most meaningful tool yet in discouraging adults from allowing underage drinking to take place in their homes.
Again, we urge the City Council to pass a social host ordinance and give local law enforcement officials another way of combating a serious community issue.