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San Luis Obispo won’t pursue keg registration program

The San Luis Obispo City Council has decided not to pursue a keg registration program, one suggestion that came out of a report last year aimed at improving relationships between residents and their student-age neighbors.
The San Luis Obispo City Council has decided not to pursue a keg registration program, one suggestion that came out of a report last year aimed at improving relationships between residents and their student-age neighbors. The Associated Press

A keg registration program will not be put in place in San Luis Obispo, local leaders decided Tuesday, instead choosing to continue to enforce the city’s existing rules geared toward reducing unruly parties and underage drinking.

The San Luis Obispo City Council voted unanimously Tuesday in support of a staff recommendation to not pursue a keg registration process, an idea raised in a “neighborhood wellness community civility report” released in 2015. No community members spoke on the item.

Instead, staff will focus on continuing to educate and encourage student-age residents on existing rules, making healthy decisions and how to help anyone who has consumed too much alcohol. Staff also suggested that a keg registration program would be redundant, as the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) already has a registration process in place.

The city staff report didn’t propose a specific registration system for individuals purchasing kegs. ABC provides identification tags to all retail licensees selling keg beer, which records the purchaser’s name, address and driver’s license number — information that can already be obtained by San Luis Obispo police if needed for an investigation.

As part of its research, staff reached out to several businesses that sell kegs, said Christine Wallace, the city’s neighborhood outreach manager.

The manager of BevMo on Los Osos Valley Road told the city that sales of kegs to college-age individuals has dropped since the city regulations on noise and unruly gatherings changed. Most of the store’s keg sales went to those hosting wedding receptions and birthday parties for older adults or for use in keg refrigerators.

Employees at Campus Bottle at 290 California Blvd. and Cork n’ Bottle at 774 Foothill Blvd. provided similar information — the former sells about 15 kegs a week and the latter about 10 a week.

The Cork n’ Bottle manager said about three-quarters of their “cheap beer” keg sales go to college-age individuals and the rest are “good beer” sales to those with “kegerators” or for weddings or other celebrations. Both businesses said keg purchases are almost nonexistent to student-age residents during the summer.

The city also surveyed Cal Poly and Cuesta College students; of 1,451 responses, 70 percent said they had attended one or more social gathering where keg beer was present.

San Luis Obispo patrol officers said keg beer is the least common form of alcohol found at parties where a noise complaint was received.

At issue is improving “neighborhood wellness” in areas surrounding Cal Poly by addressing problems with noise, parking and large parties, among other issues.

The report released last year listed numerous recommendations from a “civility working group” of Cal Poly and Cuesta College administrators, city staff, residents and students who have been brainstorming ways to improve the relationship between residents and student neighbors.

Since the report was issued, there have been signs that the crackdown on unruly behavior has been having some effect: Amended unruly gathering laws have led to an increase in citations, an alley off Hathway Avenue that was overrun with trash has been cleaned up and University Police can enforce city code violations up to a mile off campus.

Cynthia Lambert: 805-781-7929, @ClambertSLO

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