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Santa Monica Tops Dubious “Drunkest City” List

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Lookout Staff

October 6, 2015 -- Santa Monica has the most bars per capita in the State of California, helping to account for its dubious distinction as the “Drunkest City in California,” according to a recent survey by RoadSnacks.

The data gathering website based its findings on the number of bars and wineries per capita; the number of liquor stores (Santa Monica ranked 4th), the number of geotagged tweets related to drinking and the divorce rate (the 7th highest in the state) among its residents.

According to the criteria, Santa Monica easily topped the list compiled by Roadsnacks, which claims to show the “real side of places that not everyone wants to hear.”

“It wasn’t even close,” RoadSnacks wrote. “It was Santa Monica by a landslide.”

Rounding out the top ten were Santa Barbara, Napa, Pasadena, Sacramento, Newport Beach, Oakland, Livermore, San Mateo and El Cajon.

The results – which were published and broadcast by news outlets across the state -- were far different from those compiled by “Men’s Health” magazine in March, when it ranked “America’s Drunkest Cities” based on DUI crashes and arrests, binge drinking and liver disease.

The list, which only included large cities, placed Fresno, Riverside, Bakersfield and Modesto among the 14 cities nationwide to receive F grades. Fresno, which topped the magazine’s list, ranked 40th on Roadsnack’s California list.

Unlike “Men’s Health’s” list, Roadsnacks’ top rankings were given to upscale communities. Santa Barbara, a university town known for its party atmosphere, ranked second after Santa Monica, finishing 3rd for most bars per capita and fifth for most liquor stores, while Napa had the most wineries.

Some observers have pointed out that divorce rates and drinking-related tweets have little to do with drinking. The City’s tech-oriented workforce would be more likely to use social media than their counterparts in poorer cities, accounting for the number of geotagged tweets with the hashtags #Drunk, #Party, #Beer, #Wine and #Cocktails. 

Regardless of the validity of RoadSnacks findings, a recent California Health Kids Survey caused concern among local parents when it found that Santa Monica-Malibu School District (SMMUSD ) students have a drinking problem far more severe than most of their counterparts in the state. 

The survey, conducted among high school juniors during the 2013-2014 school year, found that one quarter of the students had binged on alcohol in the last 30 days, compared with 20 percent of the district students in Santa Barbara, 16 percent in Los Angeles and 10 percent in San Francisco.

Prepared for the California Department of Education, the survey found SMMUSD juniors also drank more than their counterparts based on the number of drinks they’d had in the past month and the number of times they became “very drunk” or sick from drinking. (“Santa Monica, Malibu High School Juniors Outdrink Their Counterparts in the State,” February 4, 2015)

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