Thursday, January 22, 2015

An "Outsider" Newsflash: Witness to Democracy in Action at Aliso Viejo City Hall


It was a fabulous night as many were witness to Democracy in Action at Aliso Viejo City Hall in opposition to a permit to sell Beer and Alcohol at Edwards Stadium.   The eloquence of the Young was ever so evident.    One of the key Community Leaders shared key highlights which we are pleased to report on:

Jan 21, 2015
Phillips, Chun, Harrington, and Tsunoda were united in opposition. Munzing argued strongly for alcohol in the theater, but stood alone. 
50 people from the community signed up to speak, and there were as many standing as sitting, with people overflowing into the hallway.  Several youth presented arguments from local schools.  PTA presidents and board members presented.  
Arguments presented included concerns on safety, promoting underage drinking, lack of security and oversight, and a call for elected officials to represent their constituency and put people over profits.  
The overriding theme from every speaker was, "We've worked hard to create something special in Aliso Viejo; why would we change it?"
In the end, some of the major opinions stated were:
Phil Tsunoda
- Primary driver from the beginning opposed to this.
- He stated alcohol density was too high; there were insufficient safeguards; and alcohol doesn't belong in a family theater.
Ross Chun:
- There was no compelling business case brought to the council to balance the community outcry. The theater stated there would be no substantial increase in new customers, no additional parking impact, and there would only be a minor number of people buying alcohol. But then they stated it was essential to their business to compete. He felt a little deceived by the theater in their application, not meeting the letter and spirit of the law for an alcohol license given the requirements for a full kitchen/restaurant.
- He visited the other theaters used as comparison points (Cinepolis, Island, etc.), and said they were completely different from our theater. They were made from the beginning for adults and alcohol.  He said he was one of the younger people there, unlike ours which has many kids and teens. It would be totally different to introduce it to a cramped theater with minimal controls.
- Also quoted community concerns about children safety, such as what happens in restrooms in an environment with drinking. 
William Phillips
- He said the theater's challenge in competing was not the lack of alcohol, but the core product: lack of great movies.  They should fix that if they want to increase revenue.
- He said the community had worked so hard to build Aliso Viejo as a family-friendly, unique environment. He did not want to change that yet. There was the potential for a win-win and our theater could be a unique draw as a top family-friendly theater in the entire area. This will work in our favor.
- Agreed that our cinema is very different from Cinepolis and Island Theater, and the comparison is a poor one.
Dave Harrington
- He didn't make comments during the end, but during the Q&A asked the theater why they were unwilling to set apart a few theaters out of the 20 for adults drinking alcohol, to protect the kids. He was irritated that their response was that it would be too expensive to hire security.
Mike Munzing:
- He argued vehemently for alcohol in the theater.
- He said alcohol service was consistent with his vision of remaking Town Center, and this was what the new demographic of young, urban, high-net worth adults would want.
- He was visibly upset as he railed on people from the community in the room and the 100 emails he said he received.  He argued they were making irrational comments without real proof that problems will happen.  Upset people walked out during his comments.
- He said alcohol density isn't an issue any more, quoting other communities he's visited with 100 alcohol licenses on one street. (Santa Barbara)

The City Council's vote to  rescind the Administrative Action was a testament to a grass roots organizing effort led by the Youth of Aliso Viejo High School.     What was also quite gratifying to observe was the wonderful work featured at Aliso Viejo City hall as well:   

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