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Fed up neighbors come together Robert Moreno | Sat, Feb 15 2014 12:00 PM

Community members in the South Bay are banding together to address issues related to alcohol that they say are affecting their quality of life.

Garrett Eaton, a Chula Vista resident and five-year member of the South Bay Community Change Project — a neighbiorhood group focused on addressing the underlying community conditions that contribute to, or sustain, alcohol and drug related problems — said he got involved with the project  because he lives next to a local bar and has seen his living environment affected by drunk bar patrons.

“It’s just been a huge negative impact on my living situation, my quality of life has been affected in numerous aspects,” Eaton said.

He said issues that arise in his neighborhood because of drunken behavior include fights, shootings and, in some instances, minors drinking.

Eaton declined to state which bar he is referring to because he said the bar owner has threatened him with litigation.

He was first introduced to the group when he went to Chula Vista Police to see if they could do anything about his concerns.

An officer referred him to the group and he’s been a member ever since.

The South Bay Community Change Project has been in existence for about 10 years. 

In January, the Chula Vista City Council held a workshop to hear some of the issues that are of concern for residents.

Members of the South Bay Community Change Project suggested council improve policies for local control and increase responsible retailing. 

Pastor Ron Hovick of St. Mark’s Church in Chula Vista is a member of the group Justice Overcoming Boundaries.

Hovick’s group, in the past, has tackled issues pertaining to immigration, transportation and other social issues.

This time Justice Overcoming Boundaries was asked to help with the South Bay Community Change Project’s cause in addressing community issues stemming from alcohol.

Hovick got involved with the group because he said it is part of his job as a pastor to serve the community.

“If you’re in clergy and not involved in justice and social issues, you’re missing a large part of what ministry is about,” he said.

Eaton said he isn’t against the consumption of alcohol and he said he himself enjoys a few drinks.

“I’m not trying to stop anyone from having a drink,” he said

He said he just doesn’t support the behavior of bar patrons when they get drunk.

Mary Moira from Imperial Beach said she joined the South Bay Community Change project four years ago when her daughter, who was 12 at the time, went over to a friend’s house for a party.

When Moira called to check up on her daughter, she noticed her daughter had a change in behavior and was slurring her words.

When Moira picked up her daughter she smelled the alcohol on her and immediately knew she consumed alcohol.

“I felt shocked that day, so I started looking in my community for more information,” she said. “At that point I know I had to do something in the community.”

Since that incident, Moira made her daughter — now a 10th grader at Mar Vista High School — join her in the South Bay Community Change Project.

“She is now sending the message of underage drinking to kids her age,” Moira said.

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