Fresno on the verge of reducing liquor licenses, in an attempt to clean up oversaturated neighborhoods

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FRESNO, California (KGPE) — The City of Fresno is looking to reduce the number of businesses allowed to sell alcohol in an attempt to clean up neighborhoods and cut crime.

The council is set to vote on the Responsible Neighborhood Market Act Thursday.

“Historically our city approved every single request for liquor licenses on the premise that it created jobs,” council president Miguel Arias said Wednesday.

But he said it also created much more — an over saturation of liquor stores. Arias said the state average calls for 1 alcohol license per 2,500 residents and Fresno has 1 per every 1,000 and in some areas 1 per every 300.

“Drive-bys, shootings tend to occur in these establishments that are open 24/7 and nothing good happens after midnight. Well nothing good happens after midnight when you have the most saturation of liquor stores in the state of California,” he said.

Arias said the Responsible Neighborhood Market Act would reduce the number of alcohol licenses in the city over time. He said code enforcers would inspect stores and their conditional use permits could be revoked if they’re not in compliance, then they would no longer be allowed to sell alcohol. He said the majority of problematic stores are not in compliance.

Another way the number of licenses would be reduced would be by requiring new stores to not only buy a license of their own, but also an additional one and retire it.

Some worry the extra cost could deter good businesses.

“Small grocery stores need to sell alcohol to survive right? That’s part of their profit margin,” Nick Yovino Jr. a land use consultant said.

Yovino Jr. said he fully supports the intended results of the ordinance, but wants the city to delay action to fine tune the specifics.

“At the end of the day that’s exactly it. I’m not asking to majorly overhaul or rewrite this whole ordinance. The basis of it’s there it’s just the fine details and it’s simply to have 30 days, 60 days to just have a more robust conversation and to look at all the small details and get it right the first time,” he said.

The ordinance would also limit alcohol signage on stores and restrict where they can be located.

If passed Arias anticipated getting in line with the state average in alcohol saturation in five to seven years and says some business leaders estimate it could be done in as little as three.

The ordinance needs a majority vote of four and if approved it will go into effect in 30 days.

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