An appeal for fairness

The City Council should reconsider its decision denying a mini-mart owner a liquor license

The efforts of Chico State, the city of Chico and other locals to curb dangerous binge drinking are honorable and important, but we’re urging some common sense in the matter.

A few weeks ago, at the request of Chico Police Chief Kirk Trostle, the City Council sacked a request of a local convenience-store owner seeking to sell beer and wine (not hard liquor) at his Mangrove Avenue business (see “No beer, no business,” Newslines, May 30, by Howard Hardee).

Charanjiv Singh has gone into debt to the tune of $400,000 to upgrade the store since purchasing it back in January 2012. He took that risk in good faith that he’d have no pushback on selling alcohol. After all, the previous owner had done so for decades prior in this residential neighborhood outside of the student-populated areas.

Of course, back when he purchased the store, there weren’t talks of seven binge-drinking deaths in the student community. There were no public forums scheduled to address Chico’s drinking culture. Back then, we’re certain his application for a beer and wine license would have been a non-issue.

Today, Singh is certain that he won’t be able to stay in business long-term. The council’s 6-1 vote pretty much seals that fate.

Councilman Sean Morgan, who cast the lone yes vote, was the only one who applied common sense to Singh’s request. He called the panel’s vote “hypocritical,” considering how it gave the OK to corporate big-box BevMo! a few months ago. The city’s Internal Affairs Committee is tasked with coming up with a policy for future alcohol licenses. That’s a good idea as it will save potential business owners from making an unwise investment in Chico.

But it doesn’t help Singh.

Speaking on the behalf of the police chief last week, a Chico police sergeant said Singh simply had bad timing. His license likely would have been approved only months earlier. “It was simply a matter of circumstance,” he said, since Chief Trostle had decided “to draw a line in the sand” on alcohol.

That’s a pretty flippant response to someone who’s invested that much time and money into making a successful business venture. Moreover, Trostle can only make a recommendation to the City Council. He’s doesn’t have the authority to draw that line.

Singh is considering appealing the decision, and if he does, the council should reconsider its position.