North Long Beach Pilot Program Goes After Nuisance Liquor Stores

Long Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to enact a pilot program called the Alcohol Nuisance Abatement Ordinance exclusively in the 9th District. This ordinance aims to alter the regulation of many liquor stores who have a type 21 license, which allows for the off-premises consumption of beer, wine and distilled spirits.  

The ordinance is the product of more than two years of work from community leaders as well as 9th District Councilmember Steve Neal, whose “Vision for a Healthier and Safer Community” campaign has been attempting to find ways to provide healthier food options for residents. 

Neal says that the need for liquor store regulation in North Long Beach stems from the fact that the area contains nearly 40% of the city’s liquor stores but only 20% of the city’s population. It also has the highest number of liquor stores per capita (3.1 per 10,000 residents versus 1.3 per 10,000 in the rest of the city), and most of these stores are currently operating with little regulation. 

Since 1988, liquor stores and establishments who have type 21 licenses are subject to a Conditional Use Permit, which allows the City to review each liquor store application on an individual basis and attach necessary conditions of approval for the store to address operational concerns.  

However, establishments existing prior to 1988 were grandfathered in, permitting them to operate without any restrictions or specific conditions regarding the location of use. The change to the amendment will allow a certain criteria of standards to be placed upon type 21 establishments, putting them into a category of “deemed approved.” If an establishment falls out of the “deemed approved” status, then they will have to enter into the CUP process.  

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Several of the standards the “deemed approved” required are removing all exterior payphones from the premises, removing graffiti within 24 hours of reporting whether or not the owner is aware, and not allowing more than 10% of all transparent windows and entrances to be covered with stickers or advertisements.  

Currently, the city average of these grandfathered establishments count for 67% of all type 21 establishments. District 9 has an even higher percentage, at 76%.

“I believe this pilot program will not only benefit North Long Beach, but the entire City,” District 9 Councilmember Steven Neal said. Next week the council will hear the final reading of the ordinance changes, and 30 days after that reading the ordinance changes will go into effect.

After the ordinance changes go into effect, establishments will have 90 days to comply with the new “deemed approved” status changes or will face the revocation process of removing the deemed approved status. Public complaints or criminal activity surrounding a store can also remove its status. Once this deemed approved status is removed, the CUP process can begin if the establishment wants to continue to operate as a type 21.  

“We are not anti-business, or even anti-liquor, but we have to do something to prevent these problems,” Neal said.  

The pilot program is restricted to only District 9 but is expected to produce changes before the end of the year. Evaluation of the program will commence in the future, though the current council has voted in support of the program and Neal expects the entire city to soon be covered.

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