E-Mail Forum
Conditions For Transfer Of ABC Licenses
May 17, 2001

Sometimes liquor stores or bars become public nuisances and are the focus of undesirable behavior, such as crime, littering, loitering and noise. With a new liquor establishment, Richmond has wide discretion to impose conditions on the operation through a conditional use permit. With existing establishments, state law preempts local authority to impose such conditions after the fact. However, a recent change in state law (Section 23800(e) of the California Business and Professions Code ) allows the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to impose conditions, at the time of license transfers, that cities request, so long as there are documented justifications. Some of the conditions that are typically imposed include limitations on selling single containers of beer and malt beverages, prohibitions on selling fortified wines, limitations on operating hours, posting of signs prohibiting loitering, begging and soliciting, requirements for abating litter, removing graffiti, lighting, security camera, etc.

In spite of this opportunity to impose conditions upon license transfer and wide public support for doing so, the City of Richmond has not done as well as it could in the implementation. Working with neighborhood councils, the Crime Prevention Task Force, and others, the City Council Public Safety Committee (Penn, Butt, Griffin and Anderson) has been working on a comprehensive policy to implement Section 23800(e) of the California Business and Professions Code more successfully.

These recommendations, incorporated into the following Draft resolution, will be considered by the City Council Public Safety Committee at 8:30 AM. May 24, in the Council Chambers. Public comment before or at the meeting is invited.



WHEREAS, Section 23800(e) was added to the California Business and Professions Code in 1999 to permit a “local governing body or its designated subordinate officer or agency” to request the imposition of conditions to be placed on a license to sell alcoholic beverages at the time of transfer with the intention of mitigating problems at or in the immediate vicinity of the premises; and,

WHEREAS, Under California law and the Richmond Zoning Ordinance, the City has the authority to impose conditions on new licenses through conditional use permits, but does not have the authority to impose conditions locally on transferring licenses; and,

WHEREAS, it is in the interest of the City of Richmond to take full advantage of the opportunity to request the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to impose appropriate conditions on transferring licenses;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the City Council directs that the following procedure be utilized in order to provide maximum public input, conform to time constraints, and ensure the inclusion of all appropriate and applicable conditions:

1.   The chief of police shall receive from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) a copy of all applications for transfers within the City of Richmond. These documents will be date stamped and forwarded to the Special investigations Commander.

2.   The city clerk will have already provided a copy to the City Council.

3.   The Special Investigations Commander shall, immediately on receipt:

  • Log all transfer requests.

  • Note and confirm with ABC the exact date of the 30-day deadline for response.

  • Automatically request in writing from ABC a 20-day extension.

  • Mail a copy of the ABC document to the pertinent neighborhood council president and follow up by phone to be sure it was received. Provide the neighborhood council with a list of potential conditions pre-approved by ABC (attached).

  • Mail a copy of the ABC document to the neighborhood services community affairs specialist and to the city attorney.

  • Request the Planning Department to mail a copy of the application to every property owner within 300 feet and every school within 1,200 feet. Attached to the application shall be an explanation of the City’s right to request conditions and a request to forward any information about past operational problems and proposed conditions to the special investigations commander, along with a deadline for comments.

  • Place a copy of the application on the City website. Also provide on the website the list of potential conditions pre-approved by ABC.

  • Verify that a proper notice of proposed license transfer is posted at the site.

4.   Conduct an investigation of the previous operations at the subject location, including crime statistics related to the premises and vicinity. Interview neighboring residents, businesses and the principals of the nearest schools.

5.   Contact the pertinent neighborhood council(s) for a list of conditions they wish to recommend.

6.   Based on community input in general, the results of the investigation and neighborhood council input, the special investigations commander shall prepare a report with statistics and a draft list of conditions and mail the report and list of conditions to the neighborhood council president with copies to the mayor and City Council. The special investigations commander shall also post a copy of the reports and the list of conditions on the City’s website and at reach of the City libraries.

7.   If the neighborhood council, any city council member, or any other individual is dissatisfied with the proposed conditions and files with the city clerk a request for appeal, the matter will be placed on the City Council agenda at the earliest possible date, for a public hearing. No fee will be charged for an appeal.

8.   If there is no appeal, or after a hearing has been held in the case of an appeal, the list of requested conditions, with appropriate backup information, shall be sent on Richmond Police Department letterhead, signed by the Chief of Police, to ABC, within the 50-day time limit.

9.   It is imperative that the special investigations commander make and keep a tight schedule in order to provide sufficient time for the processing of applications and not miss the deadline. In the case of an application with little controversy, it may be possible to rescind the 20-day extension if, at the point it, becomes clear that it is not required. 


I certify that the foregoing Resolution was passed and adopted by the Members of the City Council of the City of Richmond at a regular meeting held on _________________by the following vote:






Clerk of the City of Richmond




Approved as to form:


City Attorney