Under the Radar! New Alcohol Center in West LA is Business as Usual for County …  More Secrets and Lies!

JUST ASKIN’-County Supervisor Kuehl has decided unilaterally that an alcohol center should be opened in West LA – something that both Culver City and Venice rejected for their communities. 

When I say “unilaterally,” I mean that the public was not informed that it was coming. This center, under the guise of being a philanthropic institution, will be nothing more than a good old fashioned "Drunk Tank" -- a place where first responders (LAPD and LAFD, as well as surrounding jurisdictions in LA County) take people who are drunk but not drunk enough to arrest but not sober enough to be out on the street. They will bring them there to dry out and then be released into our community. 

This will be a county regional center (located at 11419 Santa Monica Boulevard – photo above, former Ethan Allen location) so it will serve all areas around us. The County never told the community, but has kept the entire project a secret. 

Their attitude is that since this center is not a city project, they need no local permission to open it. Period. I have discovered that they, in fact, have a lease and in August filed for building change of use and construction permits. So why does the county office deny knowing if a lease exists? 

The County of LA is forcing this project down our throats. We have had no say in the matter. Now that they have been caught, they claim they will do outreach. But they have already signed the lease and begun construction! 

I was alerted of these plans by someone in the LAPD and then confirmed it with Councilmember Bonin’s office. I have already issued a California Public Records Act request asking for all documents, correspondence, leases and financial records. The County has 10 days to respond. I personally spoke with Supervisor Kuehl’s local deputy who is very angry that the word got out. 

As I get more information, I will post it. And I have asked that this item be placed on the WLA Sawtelle Neighborhood Council agenda Wednesday September 29, at 7 p.m. 

I urge you to attend the meeting and bring your neighbors. Do not let this happen without a fight. Call Supervisor Kuehl at 213-974-3333 and email her at [email protected]. Let her know that secrets and bullying do not work in West LA. 

Help us protect our neighborhood.


(Jay Handal is Co-Chair of the NC Budget Advocates, treasurer of the West Los Angeles NC and Los Angeles Police Commission Hearing Examiner. Mr. Handal’s views are his own.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.