The city of West Hollywood has been actively working to repair its recent image as a place for drinkers to congregate on weekends, and for accidents to happen on its long, pedestrian-unfriendly streets. Unfortunately, today’s strongly-worded opinion column in Wehoville won’t be helping matters, as charity consultant Ben Coleman argues that the area’s binge drinking culture is causing some serious problems for everyone.
The piece opens with a bit of a caveat: West Hollywood (particularly the busy Boystown stretch just west of La Cienega) needs its bar scene. It helps to set the city apart from the rest of Los Angeles County, and is vital to the LGBT community in Southern California. Yet, there are problems.
To cite the stats used in the piece: West Hollywood is the third-highest ranking city in L.A. County for alcohol-related vehicle crashes, and among the worst for alcohol-related violent crimes overall. There’s also a high number of sexual assaults that are directly alcohol-related, with the West Hollywood Department of Public Safety themselves admitting that many of these are directly linked to the city’s nightlife scene.
Bar and restaurant owners should be even more diligent about not over-serving customers
So, Coleman argues, the city and its residents need to confront this public danger on three fronts: personally, professionally, and within their larger community. That means some drinking self-awareness when enjoying a night out, and also means bar and restaurant owners should be even more diligent about not over-serving customers who may need help in slowing down. Coleman further cites the addition of a larger food program at key bars and restaurants as one way to help drive down binge drinking overall.
The piece also tacks on the need for self-policing within the community, either by advocating alcohol-free events over more debaucherous ones, or by creating coalitions aimed at keeping particular mini-neighborhoods safe from violent and sexual crimes. There’s also the free Weho Pickup shuttle bus available for drinkers, and an untold amount of advocacy that the city can do on its own behalf to the many nightlife customers who live in the area or swing through on the weekends.
It’s certainly not an easy problem to solve — a sentiment Coleman seems to agree with. But there are steps to be taken at multiple levels that could result in a safer, more fun night out in West Hollywood.