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Five cited in Palo Alto liquor sting

Original post made on Nov 28, 2007

People at four restaurants and one liquor store were cited for serving alcohol to minors in a Nov. 16 sting operation by Palo Alto police using juvenile decoys.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007, 3:32 PM

Comments (28)

Posted by David, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 28, 2007 at 5:07 pm

Humm, ya think just maybe rape, robbery, and murder as well as the perverts that attack high school kids, just might be a little more important?

Priorities
Priorities
Priorities People.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2007 at 5:13 pm

I think that preventing businesses serving alcohol to minors should be a high priority. Too many teens are drinking and driving. Too many teens are drinking themselves into a drunken stupor. Too many teens think that laws are to be abused. This is good from two points of view. 1, the teens used as decoys are getting a good lesson they will never forget about law enforcement and what happens to lawbreakers, and 2 the businesses that are stung, get what they should be getting. This helps us as parents to enforce rules to our teens.

And, at the last count, we have been doing ok on David's list too.


Posted by Needs-Facts, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2007 at 7:49 pm

> Too many teens are drinking themselves into a drunken stupor.

And where is this documented?


Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 28, 2007 at 8:03 pm

The police cannot stop murder, rape, robberies - they can only react to such crimes. However, they can stop illegal sales of liquor by running sting operations. They did their job. Good for them.

As to drunken teenagers, I know several who entered AA to deal with their issues, while at Paly.


Posted by Wondering, a resident of Southgate
on Nov 28, 2007 at 8:03 pm

When was the last sting conducted on University, or Downtown - does anyone know?


Posted by daskhflakhdka, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 28, 2007 at 8:19 pm

dec 19 2005


Posted by Needs-Facts, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2007 at 10:38 pm

> As to drunken teenagers, I know several
> who entered AA to deal with their issues

So there is probably nothing in the public record about these, or any other palo alto teens who are "drunks"?

> However, they can stop illegal sales of liquor
> by running sting operations

These stings do no "stop" anything. These stings have been going on for many years, and every year or so stores in palo alto get caught selling to the decoys.

By the way, if the stings are stopping the sale of alcohol to teens, where are these kids getting the booze to drink themselves into AA?


Posted by Wondering, a resident of Southgate
on Nov 28, 2007 at 11:46 pm

daskhflakhdka, Thanks.

Will these institutions lose their liquor licenses for this first offense, or are they fined? If so, do you know what the fines are?


Posted by Too much traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2007 at 8:00 am

I think they should be closed down, besides punishing them for serving underage minors, it will also cut down on the traffic in town--with the restaurants closed, people will not drive there


Posted by applauder, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 29, 2007 at 8:34 am

Bravo to those establishments making sure they are not in business to aid and abet minor drinking.

And shame to those establishments that are taking cavalier attitude towards minor drinking. They should and undoubtedly will be penalized for this irresponsible behavior.

A big round of applause for our police department keeping up their vigilance.


Posted by wondering, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2007 at 10:15 am

When is the last time the Palo Alto Police ran a locker check for drugs and alcohol at either of the high schools? Why not?


Posted by Mr. BBQ, a resident of Community Center
on Nov 29, 2007 at 10:56 am

Mr. BBQ is a registered user.

I would much rather have the Palo Alto Police concentrate their efforts with the liquor stings rather than ticketing me for parking in the wrong direction in front of my house. Oh yes I forgot the ticket I got for no front license plate. I'm concerned now they might pull me over for my GPS unit attached to my windshied, which is illegal in California. Yes I do at times wonder what PAPD priorities are at times. In the old days the police would enter an establishment and check ID's of persons they thought were drinking and under age. I don't go along with idea of trying to set up a store/cafe by sending an under age teen in for the purpose of buying alcohol. I'd rather have the PAPD set up a sobriety check point and pull the drunks of the road.


Posted by BBQ's are smokey, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 29, 2007 at 11:37 am

Mr. BBQ,

Maybe you're living next door to a local police officer who doesn't appreciate your fouling her air with your smoke?



Posted by Needs-Facts, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2007 at 1:11 pm

> I would much rather have the Palo Alto Police concentrate
> their efforts with the liquor stings

What is the relationship between the sale of alcohol to someone trying to entrap a store owner and the sale of alcohol to teens in general? If the police were to video tape teens buying alcohol on a routine basis from a store, coupled with the sale to underaged youth working in concert with the police, then maybe these "stings" would be of value. A clear pattern needs to be established, and the consequences to the store need to be significant.

But what's to keep kids from driving to Menlo Park, Mountain View, or Sunnyvale to buy alcohol? Unless the kids who are doing the buying are also dragged into the enforcement side of this equation, these "stings" are just for show.


Posted by agree, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 29, 2007 at 1:42 pm

I agree if kids want to get alcohol then they will find a way to get it. The only thing that this sting is doing is hurting the store owners. Kids will have there fun no matter what.


Posted by Rebecca, a resident of Professorville
on Nov 29, 2007 at 3:22 pm

For those who are looking for information on underage drinking and the effectiveness of enforcement of zero-tolerance laws here is a link to a publication from January 2006 by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). You can find specific references to zero-tolerance laws and enforcement of said laws in the section addressing approaches for preventing underdage drinking:

Web Link


Posted by Resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 29, 2007 at 7:58 pm

How about checking on the numerous drunks who sleep on the streets every night. Shame on the Palo Alto Police Department. Selective enforcement is wrong. Why not send in an adult posing as a homeless person and see what they find?


Posted by Needs-Facts, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2007 at 8:38 pm

A poster suggested the following link for information about underage drinking:

---
Web Link

Yet drinking continues to be widespread among adolescents, as shown by nationwide surveys as well as studies in smaller populations. According to data from the 2005 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, an annual survey of U.S. youth, three-fourths of 12th graders, more than two-thirds of 10th graders, and about two in every five 8th graders have consumed alcohol. And when youth drink they tend to drink intensively, often consuming four to five drinks at one time. MTF data show that 11 percent of 8th graders, 22 percent of 10th graders, and 29 percent of 12th graders had engaged in heavy episodic (or "binge1") drinking within the past two weeks (6) (see figure). (1 The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [NIAAA] defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration [BAC] to 0.08 grams percent or above. For the typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming five or more drinks [men], or four or more drinks [women], in about 2 hours.)
---


While this information is hard to believe .. there is is on the NIH's WEB-site for everyone to see.

So .. if all of these kids are "binge drinking" nationally .. it stands to reason that the same numbers are "binge drinking" locally. So how does the occasional "sting" of a less-than-observant liquor store actually put an end to this abuse of alcohol?

If the police really wanted to be helpful, they would see to it that all alcohol purchases by anyone under (say) 25 would require a thumb print, the swipe of an identification card (preferably a driver's license) and a video camera snap so that a positive identification could be achieved. All of the driver's license data would be sifted by a computer program somewhere, and the police would be presented with a list of names/pictures/dates/times/locations, etc. for those identifications which were underage. A random check of the photos against the driver's license photos would happen from time-to-time. Stores that sold to underage kids would lose their license. Kids who bought while under age would lose their driver's license, and face a pretty stiff fine (say $5,000).

It wouldn't take long before everyone concerned realized that they were going to get caught if they were selling to teens, or teens were buying with fake identifications.


Posted by Ridiculous, a resident of Duveneck School
on Nov 30, 2007 at 8:20 am

Just a reminder that 20 year old Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are considered underaged when it comes to buying a beer, not just teens and kids. I've always found it remarkable that today's millenial generation hasn't gone to the streets about these ridiculous drinking laws passed under pressure by helicopter moms. If you are old enough to vote in this country or wear a uniform for this country, you are certainly old enough to drink a beer, or get drunk. I have never supported these inane drinking age laws and just turned a blind eye to them as a military officer serving throughout the US and the world.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2007 at 8:28 am

We can't have it both ways. We seem to applaud the rules that prevent parents serving alcohol to teens at parties and now it seems we don't want the police wasting time stinging stores that sell the stuff to teens. This is a very hypocritical attitude. Either we want to prevent teen drinking or we don't. We can't pick and choose which laws we like and which ones we don't.

My thoughts on the matter are that we should lower the drinking age to 18 and raise the driving age to 21. That would solve lots of problems.


Posted by Moi de Park, a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 30, 2007 at 8:49 am

Why doesn't the city just throw a kegger for the kids and then round them all up and ship them to Iraq, Afghanistan, Columbia or Iran. There would be less traffic, the liquor stores would go out of business, and all those bingers would now be part of the establishment that will guarantee our freedom. After all, what's a democracy for.


Oh, so good to see that Palo Alto politics is as stupid as it has always been:)


Posted by Norm, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 30, 2007 at 2:39 pm

What is the function of this question in a discussion about teen alcohol use?

"How about checking on the numerous drunks who sleep on the streets every night. Shame on the Palo Alto Police Department. Selective enforcement is wrong. Why not send in an adult posing as a homeless person and see what they find?
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood"

Total tangent.


Posted by Needs-Facts, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2007 at 2:54 pm

> We seem to applaud the rules that prevent parents serving
> alcohol to teens at parties and now it seems we don't want
> the police wasting time stinging stores that sell the stuff to
> teens. This is a very hypocritical attitude.

Perhaps the comments do seem to run the gamut of approval/disapproval of the local government's actions. But let's consider:

1) The Police do not publish statistics involving youthful offenders--such as teen drunken driving, possession of alcohol by minors, or other similar stats for drug-related offenses by teens.
2) The schools do not publish stats about student crime, or behaviour that is attributed to alcohol/drugs on campus.
3) The local papers certainly do not spend any time trying to obtain data about teen drinking/drug use.

From reading the various threads about this topic on this web site, it is not hard to see one parent claiming that there is no problem, and another suggesting that the town is knee-deep in gin. So .. who's a poor boy to believe?

There were at least 15 "Meet-the-Candidate" forums during the recent school board election, and maybe eight for the city council. Anybody who attended any of these meetings that were supposed to demonstrate "democracy in action" hear any questions to the candidates about the alcohol/drug problem that teens are encountering in Palo Alto? If not, why not? Wouldn't this been a good place for parents and residents to confront future local officials about their views on the matter, and what solutions the future elected officials support?

Either there is a problem, or there isn't. Which is it?


Posted by Curious, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 30, 2007 at 4:51 pm

While I'm against serving alcohol to underage kids, isn't there a business-friendly way to handle this? Is it a responsiblity of the PAPD to have "stings", and then turn businesses in? Shouldn't it be within the purview of the Alcoholic Beverages Dept. to go and check for themselves? I noticed Antonio's Nut House PASSED this pop test, by the way. Let's not allow this to go unnoticed. Way to go, Antonio's Nut House!!!!!!


Posted by Foodie, a resident of Community Center
on Dec 1, 2007 at 1:29 pm

Curious, I'm in support of your position.

I know of one incident, several months ago, when an underage person who was sitting with a large party in a local restaurant was served wine. She was sitting among a group of mature adults, and looked much older than she was.

She went home after dinner and told her parents that she had wine. The parents took legal action and cost a wonderful food establishment their liquor license. The restaurant was already at the margin (although a neighborhood favorite). That liquor license suspension is what brought the business down.

I'll bet that 99.9% of the underage persons who sought alcohol in that establishment were turned down, yet this one mistake caused a catastrophic end to a very worthwhile business, run by very hardworking persons.

I think that "first time" warnings should be issued to restaurants, and that unless a "pattern" of related behavior (following 2-3 additional visits) can be established, the warning should not cause undue hardship on the business.

Also, where is the consequence for the person(s) who are supposedly underage and asking for alcohol? I don't get it.

Last: teen drinking is absolutely unacceptable, and should be discouraged.

And, one more "high five" for Antonio's Nut House, the best saloon in town, bar none.


Posted by Needs-Facts, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2007 at 3:15 pm

The following link points to the CA ABC WEB-site, where various reports about alcohol licenses and violations can be reviewed:

Web Link

What's interesting about most of the violations is that police entrapment is involved, using (presumably under-aged) decoys.

There are a number of Palo Alto businesses that appear in the violations reports.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2007 at 6:52 pm

I think there has to be some leeway in an issue like this. I feel for the restaurant scenario scited above by Foodie.

We were out to dinner with friends and our under 21 daughter (who looks at least 21) and ordered wine to go with our meal. The waiter (not the one we ordered the wine from) came back and put wine glasses at each place, including our daughter's and she handed it back saying that she had ordered soda. The wine arrived and once again the wine waiter tried to give her wine. In neither case was the waiter paying too much attention to the age of each individual diner, just doing his job efficiently. In a case like this I think a restaurant should not be held accountable. However, in a case where a group of teens or young 20s were dining alone, a different type of awareness is needed. If a group of such people frequented this restaurant because they knew they could get away with ordering alcohol then the restaurant should be held accountable. Otherwise, I think we are just expecting too much of each individual wait person.


Posted by Needs-Facts, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2007 at 7:17 pm


> Otherwise, I think we are just expecting too much of
> each individual wait person.

According to:
---
Web Link

The most common food allergies are:
Milk allergy
Egg allergy
Peanut allergy
Tree nut allergy
Fish allergy
Shellfish allergy
Soy allergy
Wheat allergy
----

If would be unreasonable to expect a wait-person to ask every customer if that person is allergic to any/all of these food allergies. However, given the consequences of serving an under-aged person under the current law, then it would seem imperative for the restaurant management/owners to do whatever it takes to train wait-staff to insist on identification before serving alcohol to anyone who might be underaged. Any inconvenience to the customer is certainly less than the financial consequence to the restaurant.


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