ABC Appeals Board says it has no power

On December 1, 2016, the California Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board met in San Francisco to consider the appeal of the license granted to WinCo Foods at 2300 Watt Avenue to sell off-premise alcoholic beverages. As readers may recall, the location has an over-concentration of such to-go alcohol licenses and is in a high-crime area and thus could not qualify for a license from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). According to state law, however, a license could be issued if the the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors found justification via a Public Convenience or Necessity (PCN) hearing. In December of 2014 the Supervisors held a PCN hearing to consider the request for the store's alcohol license. At that hearing, against considerable public testimony asserting it was already very convenient to purchase to-go alcohol in the community and so yet another off-sale license was unnecessary, the Supervisors ruled in favor of the license because of their perception that the local economy would benefit from construction of the store at Country Club Plaza. The petitioners then exercised their legal right to request the California ABC to deny the issuance of the license. The petition was denied (see our blog entry entitled ABC Protest Hearing). Pursuant to state law, the petitioners asked a separate state agency, the ABC Appeals Board to overturn the ABC's determination. The store was subsequently built and opened at Country Club Plaza and, generally unknown to the public, was granted an interim license to sell to-go alcohol long before the Appeals Board even scheduled the hearing. At the December 2016 hearing, a panel of appointees heard testimony from the citizen petitioners and from WinCo's and the ABC's attorney. The Panel, while cordial, said 1) they understood that Arden Arcade has an excessive amount of to-go liquor licenses and 2) they acknowledged that problems flow to the community from that situation. But they then explained they were powerless to do anything about it because the Legislature had given the Supervisors the power to go against the ABC's regulations. "You have a political problem", said one of the Panel members, referring to both the Supervisors and the Legislature. The hearing was closed with all participants understanding that the license would be allowed to stand. The ABC Appeals Board will be releasing a formal statement to that effect. 

The California Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board, a watchdog over the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), met in San Francisco on 12/1/16 and said it was sorry, but it had no ability to undo the decision made by the County Board of Supervisors to approve the 18th to-go liquor license for the 4 census tracts that touch Watt and El Camino. The state ABC's rules only allow for 10 of those licenses there.





Oops, they did it again

On October 18th the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing about whether Arden Arcade needs yet another liquor store. Under state law, "off-sale" (i.e. to-go) liquor licenses cannot be approved in areas that already have too many liquor stores and are located in high-crime areas -- unless local elected officials determine that "Public Convenience or Necessity" (PCN) would be served by granting the license. The 7-11 Corporation wanted to be able to sell alcohol at the proposed convenience store at the NW corner of Howe and Hurley. In August 2016 the Supervisors decided a convenience store would be OK for the site, but deferred acting on the PCN until October 18, 2016, claiming they needed more information about crime and vagrancy in the area. Lo and behold, the additional information turned out to be not a big deal because the crime rate was pegged at just 177% of the County's average crime rate, which is only 57% higher than the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) says is the level of concern. And the vagrancy problem was, you know, totally solved because the Valero recycling center at the other convenience store at the same intersection had been recently closed and, anyway, the Sheriff's Department did a sweep not long ago and arrested some homeless people. See? Poof! No more problems! So, to no one's surprise, the Supervisors (all except Supervisor Don Nottoli) felt it would be fine for 7-11 to add another store to the large group of businesses licensed to sell to-go alcohol in Arden Arcade and, besides, they thought the new convenience store would be a nice building. It appeared to be of  no concern that many people had asked the Community Planning Advisory Council (CPAC) to reject the proposal, that the CPAC had indeed advised against the liquor store, or that the Supervisors heard public testimony against the proposal from businesses and residents.  It didn't matter that alcohol sales in Arden Arcade bring in around $9-10 per capita (calculated from state of California budget) whereas problems caused by alcoholism in Arden Arcade cost $478 or so per capita (calculated from "The Costs of Alcohol Abuse in California"). It wasn't a problem that the ABC and the Sheriff's staff have repeatedly told public audiences that the Sheriff's conditions on liquor sales cannot be enforced without the public's help. Nor did it dawn on the Supervisors that their decision was in stark contrast to the gut-wrenching testimony they heard during the workshop on homelessness that preceded the PCN hearing, a workshop wherein the Supervisors were told that substance abuse among the homeless population was significant and needed to be addressed and that criminalization of homelessness (e.g. sweeps and arrests) was not the answer. Instead, the Supervisors bestowed Arden Arcade, already awash with liquor stores, with another liquor store.

Photo credit: Sacramento Bee

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Where DUI accidents happen in Arden Arcade

The Sacramento Bee has published an interactive map with data on alcohol-related traffic accidents in Sacramento County. Some of Arden Arcade's busy intersections are among the sites with high incidences of alcohol-related accidents. According to the Bee, Watt/El Camino, Marconi/El Camino, Fulton/Arden and Howe/El Camino were all among the County's non-freeway areas with the highest rates of accidents during 2013-2015. Another problem area is the vicinity around Howe and Hurley--a proposed location for yet another liquor store. That area had 11 alcohol-related wrecks during 2013-2015, with 4 injuries and 1 death. The County Board of Supervisors hearing about whether the public needs another liquor store at Howe and Hurley is scheduled for October 18th at 3pm in the Supervisors' chambers in downtown Sacramento.

Sacramento Bee graphic Sept. 20, 2016


Underage Drinking Workshop for Parents, Guardians and Caregivers

The Center for Collaborative Planning, in partnership with the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Arden Arcade, will hold a FREE workshop for parents, guardians and caregivers about how to prevent underage alcohol use and abuse. The workshop will be held on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016, from 5-7 p.m. at the Swanston Community Center, 2350 Northrup Ave. in Arden Arcade. A light dinner and childcare will be provided, but an RSVP is necessary by Friday Sept. 9th. To RSVP contact Ha Nguyen Tank at [email protected] or call her at (916) 498-6960. More details are in the flyer below.




Liquor store OK'ed, liquor license delayed

As reported in the Bee, Sacramento County Supervisors have approved the proposal to build a new liquor store -- that also sells gasoline -- at the NW corner of Howe and Hurley. A Shell Oil station was once on the site, functioning as a liquor store that also sold motor fuel. A few years ago Shell tore down the building, leaving the site vacant. Howe and Hurley is very congested intersection. It presents significant issues of ingress and egress for the parcel, which may well be why Shell up and left. Not learning from the past, the Supervisors seemed bound and determined to see another liquor store with gas pumps established at the site. As they have done with other land use decisions, the Supervisors let the applicant have relief from land use regulations everyone else must abide by, and they did so without making the findings required by state law (see CA Government Code Section 69506). We all know it's not news that the County does what it wants no matter what. 

What IS news, though, is that the Supervisors held off on approval of the off-sale liquor license the applicant says is so important to being able to succeed at that location. The site, it seems, is in a place the ABC people at the state say has too many liquor stores and the Sheriff says is a high-crime area. The Supervisors expressed discomfort about the area being awash in liquor stores and voiced concern about homeless people there. Since similar comments could be made about most every other commercial intersection in Arden Arcade, one can only marvel at this turn of events. It is not known whether the flood of emails