Fresno City Council members announce support of plan to cap, curb liquor store licenses

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Liquor store, after store, down Fresno’s Belmont avenue. 

Some with signs; hard to miss.

“66 percent of youth surveyed, reported seeing at least one alcohol advertisement per day.”

Fresno students, business owners and city leaders speaking Tuesday about the Responsible Neighborhood Market Act; a plan to stop the exposure, and more.

“This act will finally eliminate Fresno’s designation as the drunkest city in America,” Fresno City Council Vice President Miguel Arias said. “Reduce the saturation, improve neighborhoods, encourage good development of full-service grocery stores.”

Business owners also on board, praising plans for a joint committee to help weed out, “bad apples,” like businesses selling to minors or displaying too many signs.

“I tell every one of you, we have our kids here, they’re born and raised here,” American Petroleum and Convenience Store Association President Andy Chhikara said. 

Fresno City Councilmen Luis Chavez, Arias and Nelson Esparza say, the plan would work over time.

“Over time, any new operator who wants to open and get a license to sell alcohol, beer or liquor, would have to buy an existing licence in good standing, and retire it,” Arias explained. “So technically you’re acquiring two licenses; one to operate and one to retire.”

The plan will even include incentives for grocery stores to build in “food desert” areas.

“Everybody knows that we have a problem, but we came to the table with solutions,” Chavez said.

City leaders say, since the act would be a permanent change to the municipal code, there’s 6 to 8 months of research before the city council can have the final say. 

Tomorrow, in a special meeting, the council will vote on the rough draft. 

As of now, we’re told all are in support. 

The mayor would have power to veto tomorrow, but councilmembers tell me, he may support the act, now that businesses have also backed it.

Reporting at Fresno City Hall, Megan Rupe.

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