Of the 67 liquor stores targeted in a recent underage decoy operation by El Cajon Police, 18 sold to minors.
"When I got those stats back, frankly, I was shocked," said El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells about the troubling numbers.
The mayor is now taking the issue before the City Council. "I thought it might be 3-4 percent maybe but 27-percent. It was clear to me we had to take further steps and be more aggressive about this," he said.
Penalties to 27-percent of the stores that sold to minors could include fines and perhaps the revocation of a business land use permit after multiple offenses.
"We're going to ask the city attorney and the city manager to look at the law and see how much latitude we have in enforcing these kind of issues. We've got to protect our kids. We know kids are at risk if they start drinking early," said Mayor Wells.
The El Cajon City Council adopted DEEMED, an ordinance approved in November 2012, which gives the city jurisdiction to address problems surrounding the illegal sale of alcohol to minors.
"Having local control we can do enforcement anytime we want, at our own pace when needed to meet demands and complaints. There's no downside from the city's perspective to having less drunk people on streets," said El Cajon mayor.
The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is the agency in charge of Liquor Licenses, but El Cajon's DEEMED approved ordinance allows the city to monitor businesses that sell liquor based on their land use permits.