Artisan by Dan Joyce
Sobriety And City Hall
As part of my focus on a mentally healthier community, I believe sobriety is important for many as well as the whole of the community. While many can handle alcohol in moderation, many cannot and this needs to be addressed on a larger city scale. Studies show that many start drinking at younger ages, because they feel there is really nothing else to do for entertainment. Since my grandparents moved here in the mid 1940’s, Fullerton has always been a largely schooling town providing many educational resources. We now host several colleges with several students starving for weekend entertainment, but what options are we giving them? If we let our college students develop poor drinking patterns at such a young age, many will continue into more severe problems in later adulthood causing unnecessary difficulties for them, their families, the police and the community as a whole. We have to look at the long-term investment we are making into our students and our city.
It is no debatable estimate that downtown Fullerton now hosts over 20 bars and alcohol related businesses in its small radius. This has not always been the case. In the national art boom of the 1980’s we hosted several art galleries instead, The Sarah Bain Gallery, The John Thomas Gallery, Gallery 57 and The Edge, to name a few. These businesses slowly fell out do to the collapse of the art market and were followed by antique shops. During this time, I counted only three bars in downtown Fullerton – Mulberry St., a dive bar called Mikki’s and a Mexican cantina. Now the city is flooded with an onset of alcoholic businesses in what I call, “The Bourbon Street Takeover.” Our students and others are hitting the city every weekend and other nights in a massive downtown party that is ruining other businesses and questioning the safety of our community. Not only are Fullerton’s college students going out to drink, but residents of other communities are driving in from Riverside and L.A. counties including those with known gang affiliations. This “night life” scenario has become a mad house and I feel Fullerton needs more options other than alcohol for entertainment. With the problems that alcohol and alcoholism creates, it will only harm our students and our citizens in the long run. Do we want Fullerton to be a community for families and education, or do we want it to waste away into a party town?
What other options do we have other than a party bar night scene for Downtown Fullerton? Ironically, in this same small radius, I have counted ten or eleven churches whose parishioners are probably not getting drunk in the bars every weekend. Certainly, we can offer them some avenues for entertainment other than just a Sunday sermon. As far as other business options go, of course, I encourage the arts. Fullerton and Orange County have a long historical art community that could still be developed further with minimum drinking involved. Coffeehouses are still popular, vintage record stores, comic book stores, antiques, classic film and live theatre, etc… These can also create a more cultural element for our colleges. Our very own Fox Theater could be a great investment for this while providing a much more appropriate and quaint date night for young students. There are many options besides booze.
What can you as a local governing agent do about this? I learned from my father in early adulthood that 90% of politics is economics. We need to provide greater incentives for sole proprietorships and small business to start up and grow in this community. Other than “Stray Cat” and “Black Hole Records” I have seen very few such businesses survive on Harbor Blvd. in these past 30 years. That is a sad statistic. Also, we need to discourage the bars economically by further regulating and policing them regarding who they are serving to and more importantly, who they are letting drive home. If we are getting this bad element from other cities, as I claim, then legally stop this traffic through enforcement of drunk driving laws.
One last note, I am not just a party-pooper. I am a small business owner and resident for decades in this community. As such, I would like to see a better safer and healthier Fullerton by providing other options for entertainment for ourselves, for our families and for our students. May God bless you all and may you all live fruitful lives!