Alcohol Beverage Control Licenses

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Continuing How Downtown Got This Way…

Regarding the  Alcohol Beverage Control Department hearing to grant a license to “Spiked Paint”
Inquiring of the status of the ABC notices to the police department, I was told that the officer who had handled the notices had  retired, and they didn’t know who had been assigned that responsibility.

From the B&P codes, I learned that the allotment of licenses depended on the population of the census tract as compared with county population and ratio.  Calculating that ratio, it appeared we qualified for five “on sale”–retail– licenses and two “off sale”–manufacturer–licenses in Tract 0113, basically the Central Business District of Fullerton.  This area also includes  the Restaurant Overlay District, of which more about later.  That number, “five,” was acknowledged  by the administrative law judge in her ruling approving a license for Grits restaurant on May 23, 2016.  And more about that later, also.

I also noted that an application would be denied “…if issuance of that license would tend to create a law enforcement problem, or if issuance would result in or add to an undue concentration of licenses, except as provided in Section 23058.4.”   Section23058.4 defines the concept of “undue concentration” of licenses.  It also says the department could still  issue a license “…if the applicant shows that public convenience or necessity would be served by the issuance.”  Emphasis added.

Delia Garcia, Licensing Representative II, Santa Ana District Office, testified at the hearing that was held for the issuance of an alcohol license to Spiked Paint.  Spiked Paint, already long gone, was a funky little place between Back Alley and Les Amis restaurant, overlooking the parking lot north of Amerige Avenue.  It offered opportunity to copy paintings while imbibing wine and beer.

Ms. Garcia offered into evidence a letter dated April 25, 2012, from Heather Allen, Planning Manager, on Community Development Department letterhead.  That letter stated that the issuance of an alcoholic beverage license to Spiked Paint would “satisfy the City of Fullerton’s definition of public convenience or necessity.”

I objected that there was no foundation indicating Ms. Allen was authorized to issue such an opinion.  Ms. Garcia left the witness chair to go into the ABC offices.  She returned with the memo from F. Paul Dudley, Director of Development Services dated March 24, 1995, referred to in the first paragraph above. Dudley stated, “Approvals will be made by this department after consultation with the Police Department.  Please contact me at X6547 by April 3 if you have any concerns. If we receive none (sic), we will prepare a letter on April 4 for the Mayor’s signature designating Development Service as the contact department for ABC.”

Ms. Garcia also offered into evidence a copy of then-Mayor Julie Sa’s letter dated April 4, 1995, to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Office of the Director, which read, “Pursuant to your March 8, 1995, memo, the City of Fullerton designates our Development Services Department as the authorized contact point for determinations of public convenience or necessity under AB-2897.  The Development Services Department will coordinate with the Fullerton Police Department.  Sincerely, Julie Sa, Mayor.”

I have seen two applications wherein the applicant her/himself  tells ABC why it is convenient and necessary to get a license, and one where our development department wrote the rationale. I have not researched city nor ABC files to see how many other “public convenience or necessity” statements were made by city staff on behalf of the issuance of license to sell alcohol in our downtown.  It would be interesting to know which were the first five licensees.

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