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Alcohol Outlet Density as a Cause of Crime

Alcohol Outlet Density Research Studies

Hermosa Beach Arrests, Assaults and Disturbance Calls reach all-time highs in 2004. 

Hermosa Beach & Manhattan Beach Crime Stats for 1998 to 2004 Comparison

HB City Council Candidate's Questions for the HBNA Candidate Forum & Debate

Comparison of 1998 to 2004 CJSC crime statistics for:

Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and El Segundo


Hit Counter

Hermosa Beach 1998 to 2004 Crime Statistics


                                                       All                           Criminal        Adult       Total Calls      Disturbance

            Burglary     Robbery      Assaults        DUI      Citations       Arrests      For Service      Calls            

 1998 --  113              17                77             150            562              608           19,951           3,199

 2004 --  140              20              143             195          1,419           1,388           30,215           4,201  

     Up            Up               Up            Up            Up               Up              Up               Up

  23.9 %     17.6 %      85.7 %       30 %      152 %        128 %        51.4 %       31.3 %


Manhattan Beach 1998 to 2004 Crime Statistics


            Burglary      Robbery        All              DUI        Criminal       All            Total Calls

                                                    Assaults                   Citations       Arrests      For Service

1998 --   227              42               133             278             ----            1,487             20,766 

2004 --   213              31               162             158             807           1,026             18,983

             Down        Down            Up            Down          ---            Down           Down

   6.2 %       26 %           22 %         43 %        n/a             31 %           8.6 %



Related Links:
Alcohol and Outlet Density: Research Summaries

Alcohol and Outlet Density: Literature Review

Research has clearly established an association between greater outlet density and alcohol-related outcomes such as:


• one study estimated that in a typical Los Angeles city of 50,000, with 100 alcohol outlets and 570 assaults in 1990, adding one outlet would be associated with 3.4 additional assaults per year (Scribner et al. 1995)


• a study of Cleveland alcohol outlets and crime calculated that adding a bar to a block would increase the risk of a murder taking place on the block by almost 5% (Roncek and Maier 1991)

motor vehicle crashes

• one study estimated that a city of 50,000 residents in Los Angeles County with 100 alcohol outlets in 1990 would experience an additional 2.7 crashes for each new alcohol outlet opened (Scribner et al. 1999)

youth violence

• a study of Mexican American neighborhoods in three northern California cities found that for every area with 1,000 residents and no alcohol outlets nearby there were 1.19 violent crimes committed by youth, compared to 2.57 crimes per 1,000 residents in areas with at least one outlet nearby (Alaniz and Parker 1998)

cirrhosis deaths

• a study estimates that a 1% increase in on-site availability of alcohol in Los Angeles County cities would be associated with a 0.35-0.51% increase in deaths by cirrhosis (Scribner et al. 1994)

alcoholism rates

• a study of 38 states and the District of Columbia found that there were higher alcoholism rates in states that had higher rates of on-premise alcohol outlets (Harford et al. 1979)


-  Year 2004 Hermosa Beach per capita crime comparison to Manhattan Beach -

Hermosa Beach per capita Arrests were 2.5 times higher, than in Manhattan Beach.

Hermosa per capita Criminal Citations were 3.2 times higher, than in Manhattan Beach.

Hermosa per capita Calls for Service were 2.9 times higher, than in Manhattan Beach.

Hermosa Beach has more than Double the Alcohol Outlet Density than Manhattan Beach

and That Fact Creates More Crime in Hermosa.


---   The 143 Assaults in 2004 is an all-time high since 1991 in Hermosa Beach.


---   1,388 Adult Arrests in 2004 is an all-time high since 1991 in Hermosa Beach.


---   1,419 Criminal Citations in 2004 is an all-time high since 1991 in Hermosa Beach.


---   4,201 Disturbance Calls in 2004 is an all-time high since 1991 in Hermosa Beach.


---   The HBPD Calls for Service of 32,241 calls in 2003 and 30,215 calls in 2004 are an all-time high for any 2-year period, since 1991 in Hermosa Beach.


---   The HBPD Calls for Service has averaged 30,901 calls in the last 4 years, 2001 thru 2004.


---   Manhattan Beach is much larger than Hermosa and the Manhattan Beach Police had 18,983 Calls for Service in 2004 and arrested a total of 1,026 persons in 2004.


---   The Hermosa Beach Police had 19,951 Calls for Service in 1998 and arrested a total of 624 persons in 1998.


Manhattan Beach averaged less than 20,000 Calls for Service a year from 2001 to 2004


Hermosa Beach averaged more than 30,000 Calls for Service a year from 2001 to 2004,

with a police force that is half the size of Manhattan Beach's.


Two major theories have been advanced to explain the relationship between outlet density and violence:

theory of selective disinhibition
Alcohol tends to lower people's inhibitions against using violence to achieve their goals. In addition, alcohol's well-known negative effects on people's perception, ability to interpret others' actions and intentions, and judgment make it more likely that interpersonal conflicts arise. These effects of alcohol (lowered inhibitions against violence, altered perceptions, etc.) are more likely to lead to violence in situations in which a complex set of social and psychological circumstances neutralize the normal social and psychological constraints against violence. There is a greater likelihood that these situations, and hence violence, will occur when alcohol is more readily available, such as in areas of high outlet density (Parker and Rebhun 1995)

great attractor theory
Increased outlet density is associated with violence because alcohol outlets, by their nature, define a physical and social environment in which social norms and external controls are weakened. Thus, people in this environment may be more likely to engage in illegal, dangerous, or violent activities. The consumption of alcohol also makes people in this environment more susceptible to situations described by the theory of selective disinhibition.(Alaniz et al. 1998)

Maria Luisa Alaniz, Randi S. Cartmill, and Robert Nash Parker. Immigrants and violence: the importance of neighborhood context. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 20(2):155-174. May 1998.

Maria L. Alaniz and Robert Nash Parker. Alcohol outlet density and Mexican American youth violence. Berkeley CA: Prevention Research Center. 1998.

D.M. Gorman, P.W. Speer, E.W. Labouvie, and A.P. Subaiya. Risk of assaultive violence and alcohol availability in New Jersey. American Journal of Public Health 88 (1):97-100. 1998.

P.J. Gruenewald, B.A. Millar, and P. Roeper. Access to alcohol: geography and prevention for local communities. Alcohol Health and Research World (20) 4:244-251. 1996.

P.J. Gruenewald, B.A. Millar, and A. Treno. Alcohol availability and the ecology of drinking behavior. Alcohol Health and Research World (17) 1:39-45. 1993.

T.C. Harford, D. Parker, C. Paulter, and M. Wolz. Relationship between number of on-premise outlets and alcoholism. Journal of Studies on Alcohol. 40:1053-1057.1979.

D.P. MacKinnon, R. Scribner, and K.A. Taft. Development and applications of a city-level alcohol availability and alcohol problems database.  Statistics in Medicine 14:591-604. 1995.

Robert Nash Parker, with Linda-Anne Rebhun. Alcohol and homicide: a deadly combination of two American traditions. Albany: State University of New York Press. 1995.

Dennis W. Roncek and Pamela A. Maier. Bars, blocks, and crimes revisited: linking the theory of routine activities to the empiricism of "hot spots." Criminology (29)4:725-753. 1991.

R.A. Scribner, D. Cohen, S. Kaplan, and S.H. Allen. Alcohol availability and homicide in New Orleans: conceptual considerations for small area analysis of the effect of alcohol outlet density. Journal of Studies of Alcohol 60 (3):310-316, 1999.

Richard A. Scribner, David P. MacKinnon, and James H. Dwyer. Alcohol outlet density and motor vehicle crashes in Los Angeles County cities. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 44:447-453, July, 1994.

Richard A. Scribner, David P. MacKinnon, and James H. Dwyer. The risk of assaultive violence and alcohol availability in Los Angeles County. American Journal of Public Health (85)3:335-340, 1995.

Date: 6/28/01

The Marin Institute – Alcohol Policy

Alcohol and Violence

•  Alcohol availability is closely related to violent assaults. Communities and neighborhoods that have more bars and liquor stores per capita experience more assaults. 1

•  Alcohol use is frequently associated with violence between intimate partners. Two-thirds of victims of intimate partner violence reported that alcohol was involved in the incident. 2

•  In one study of interpersonal violence, men had been drinking in an estimated 45 percent of cases and women had been drinking in 20 percent of cases. 3

•  Women whose partners abused alcohol were 3.6 times more likely than other women to be assaulted by their partners. 4

•  In 1997, 40 percent of convicted rape and sexual assault offenders said that they were drinking at the time of their crime. 5

•  In 2002, more than 70,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 were victims of alcohol-related sexual assault in the U.S. 6

•  In those violent incidents recorded by the police in which alcohol was a factor, about nine percent of the offenders and nearly 14 percent of the victims were under age 21. 7

•  Twenty-eight percent of suicides by children ages nine to 15 were attributable to alcohol. 8

•  An estimated 480,000 children are mistreated each year by a caretaker with alcohol problems. 9

HBNA Note:

Hermosa Beach Arrests, Assaults, Criminal Citations, Disturbance Calls and Calls for Service reach all-time highs in 2004.


Hermosa Beach Crime Statistics - 1998 thru 2003


      Rape        Burglary      Non-Injury       ALL              DUI          Criminal       ALL             Total Calls

                                                            Auto Acc.       Assaults                      Citations      Arrests      for Service

1998 --       8          113           201              77          150         562          624         19,951

1999 --       6          118           170            119          203         613          692         21,378

2000 --       6          145           195              97          152         545          629         25,147

2001 --       9          104           176            141          170         668          873         32,422

2002 --      15         118           202            131          214         943        1,027         28,728

2003 --      11         143           258            140          285         989        1,343         32,241



HB Crime Categories That Have Shown an Increase from 1998 thru 2003


                      Rape       Burglary        Non-Injury       ALL             DUI           Criminal        ALL            Total Calls

                                                             Auto Acc.       Assaults                      Citations      Arrests      for Service

                Up          Up             Up              Up           Up           Up            Up             Up

               37 %     26 %        28 %         81 %      90 %     75 %      115 %       61 %   


Crime Statistics from: The Hermosa Beach Police Department Activity Reports


Excerpts from:

The Easy Reader – May 20, 2004

Bar owners meet with Hermosa Beach police

by David Rosenfeld

--- The city has attracted more people every year since construction of the Pier Plaza in 1997, coinciding with an increase in crime.

--- In 2003, police saw 140 assaults, compared to 77 in 1998.  There were 1,315 arrests in 2003 compared with 608 in 1998, and 285 DUI arrests compared to 150 in 1998. 

--- In February, police chief Michael Lavin cited “an ever-increasing level of violence in the downtown.”


Hermosa Beach 1998 to 2004 Crime Statistics


                                                                       ALL                        Criminal       Adult       Total Calls      Disturbance

            Burglary     Robbery        Assaults       DUI       Citations      Arrests     For Service     Calls            

 1998 --  113              17                77             150            562              608           19,951          3,199

 2004 --  140              20              143             164          1,419           1,388           30,215          4,201


Crime Categories That Have Shown an Increase from 1998 thru 2004


                                                                                     Criminal      Adult       Total Calls       Disturbance

Burglary     Robbery       Assaults       DUI        Citations      Arrests     For Service     Calls               

     Up            Up               Up             Up           Up              Up             Up                Up

  23.9 %    17.6 %        85.7 %      9.3 %     152 %       128 %       51.4 %        31.3 %


Source: The Hermosa Beach Police Department Activity Reports

Excerpts from:

The Easy Reader - February 3, 2005

Arrests hit an all-time high


by Robb Fulcher


---   The year 2004 saw a record number of arrests in Hermosa -- 1,388 -- topping the old record of 1,315 set the year before.


---   Those high-water marks go back at least to 1991, when the Hermosa Beach Police Department began keeping detailed arrest records, Chief Mike Lavin said.

---   The downtown area with its active and sometimes rowdy nightlife has contributed to the increased arrests, Lavin said. 


---   “That is a reflection, I would have to say, of the downtown. We have so much activity there,” he said.

 ---   In another possibly downtown-related development, misdemeanor citations ballooned from 989 to 1,419. Disturbance calls to police rose from 3,025 to 4,201.



The Marin Institute – Alcohol Policy


Alcohol: The Problem

Most of us are aware of some common dangers associated with drinking, including alcoholism, and driving under the influence. But the harmful effects of alcohol use are greater than many of us realize.

Heavier consumption is associated with cancer, liver cirrhosis, stroke and birth defects. Drinking has also been linked to community blight as well as domestic violence, rape, assault, homicide, suicide, and lost productivity at work and school.

Alcohol producers' marketing and promotion practices often contribute to these problems. Some in the alcohol industry target underage drinkers and encourage binge drinking. They exploit cultural festivals such as Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick's Day, and they prey on particular communities with their advertising—like malt liquor ads aimed at African Americans.

The intensity of efforts to prevent alcohol problems must match the enormity of the crisis. When the public health is overwhelmed by commercial interests that minimize the industry's responsibility, communities are forced to deal with the problems alcohol leaves behind.


1 Scribner, R. A., MacKinnon, D.P., and Dwyer, J.H. "The risk of assaultive violence and alcohol availability in Los Angeles County". American Journal of Public Health 3(85):335-340. 1995.

 2 . Accessed 9.26.03

3 Roizen, J. Issues in the epidemiology of alcohol and violence. In: Martin, S.E., editor. Alcohol and Interpersonal Violence: Fostering multidisciplinary perspectives. Bethesda (MD): National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; 1993. p. 3-36. NIAAA Research Monograph No. 24.

4 "Risk factors for injury to women from domestic violence". Demetrios N. Kyriacou, Deirdre Anglin, Ellen Taliaferro, Susan Stone, Toni Tubb, Judith A. Linden, Robert Muelleman, Erik Barton, and Jess F. Kraus. The New England Journal of Medicine 341:1892-98. December 16, 1999.

5 Greenfield, L., and Henneberg, M. "Alcohol, crime, and the criminal justice system." Alcohol & Crime: Research and Practice for Prevention, Alcohol Policy XII Conference: Washington, DC, 11-14 June 2000.

6 Hingson, R., Heeren, T., et al. (2002). "Magnitude of alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18-24." Journal of Studies on Alcohol 63(2): 136-144.


 . Accessed 9.26.03

8 . Accessed 9.26.03

9 Children of Alcoholics Foundation, Inc. 1996. Collaboration, coordination and cooperation: helping children affected by parental addiction and family violence. New York: Children of Alcoholics Foundation.

Alcohol Sales Licenses

Your local municipality can protect public health by regulating the number, location, type and density of alcohol outlets.

Number of Licenses

Restricting the number and density of alcohol outlets is one way you can reduce alcohol problems. Research has shown that fewer outlets per capita or per square mile can result in reductions in consumption and related problems.

Neighborhoods that are characterized by extremely high outlet densities may experience a variety of problems resulting from the presence of the outlets themselves, only partially related to levels of consumption. There is evidence that high alcohol outlet density contributes to increased crime and violence, youth violence, homicide, and other public nuisance and illegal activities.

Think of alcohol outlet density in terms of:

You and residents of your community can influence your local government’s planning policy in order to restrict the numbers of alcohol outlets. Your neighborhood group can write its own specific plan, spelling out what type of commercial and residential mix is desired, including the number and types of alcohol outlets your group deems appropriate. Other options include raising concerns in public forums about numbers of outlets, pushing for moratoriums on new licenses, reduction in overall density of alcohol outlets, and passing local ordinances.

Type of Licenses

Generally there are two broad categories of alcohol licenses. On-sale licenses are for businesses such as bars and restaurants that sell alcohol for consumption on the premises. Off-sale licenses are businesses such as grocery stores, liquor stores, convenience stores and corner markets that sell alcohol for consumption off site. One-day licenses are for the sale of alcohol at special events.

Location of Licenses

Local governments may use various guidelines to determine the appropriateness of an alcohol license in an application’s proposed land-use environment. They may consider restrictions on location, based on proximity of the proposed license to schools, churches, hospitals, residences and playgrounds. They may also consider the current density of alcohol licenses in the area of the application, whether it would create traffic problems, whether it is a high crime area, and whether it might contribute to law enforcement problems.

Local jurisdictions can pass ordinances to put distance limits on new alcohol licenses, such as having no new license within 1,000 feet of an existing license. Alcohol may be prohibited by local ordinance in public parks, at beaches or by rules about public locations such as sports arenas and community centers.


The Hermosa Beach Neighborhood Association

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