Sacramento County looks to restrict alcohol sales

County planning commission could recommend conditional-use permits

Looking to possibly stanch the flow of booze into saturated, poorer communities, Sacramento County officials may add regulations for prospective alcohol sellers.

Right now, businesses that want to sell alcohol have to apply for licenses from the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control. Local governments can only make recommendations on whether to approve such requests if the business is pitched to an area with high crime or an undue concentration of liquor establishments.

“All they can do is say what they think,” said the Department of Planning and Community Development's Gloria Cooksey. “The entire decision and process is left to the state of California.”

Even so, local officials rarely recommend denial to the state, but they often request conditions, like the hours an establishment can operate and what security measures they need to have in place.

Over the past five years, most “undue concentration” requests enveloped the county's third district, which includes the neighborhoods of Fair Oaks, Carmichael and North Highlands. There are 207 active alcohol licenses in those three communities alone, according to the state ABC's database.

On Monday, the county planning commission could recommend a conditional use permit be obtained by bars, liquor stores, small markets or bigger retailers that sell mostly alcoholic products. Administrative approval could also be required of restaurants, supermarkets and similar establishments before they can sell booze. The new regulations wouldn't affect businesses with pre-existing liquor licenses.

The commission was originally set to hear this item on July 22, but the report wasn't ready. Cooksey said the August 12 hearing could also be delayed if planning staff hasn't completed the proposal.