FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Fresno City Councilmembers voted 6-1 Thursday in favor of the Responsible Neighborhood Market Act – with Councilmember Mike Karbassi the only no vote.
The move is to reduce the number of stores selling liquor. There are currently around 500 liquor store licenses in the city.
The state recommends only one liquor store license for every 2500 residents; Fresno has one for every 1000 residents. In southwest Fresno, there is one liquor license for every 500 residents.
Approving the Responsible Neighborhood Market Act means businesses selling beer, wine, and liquor to-go, such as convenience and liquor stores, will have to buy a licensing permit from an existing business.
Rod Wade and Wade Muhammad with Fresno United, an organization designed to address Fresno’s gang violence, spoke at the meeting in support of the Act. They say liquor stores bring a lot of crime.
“Alcohol doesn’t rebuild a community,” said Muhammad. “It ruins a community.”
On Sept. 4, a man was killed outside a liquor store on Elm. On Sept. 16, two more people were shot outside McKinley Market.
“Last Friday, we just lost four females,” said Rod Wade. “These are our future queens.”
Critics worry the Act would deter grocery stores from moving in, which are already hard to find in underserved communities. Councilmembers will work to create incentives and exemptions for grocery and health food stores that meet specific criteria.
Granville Homes CEO Darius Assemi said, although this is a great first step, the issue is that stores will be able to continue to sell single-serve alcoholic beverages.
“Single sale alcohol is not going away and that is an issue that attracts criminal activity and the homeless activity to these stores,” said Assemi.
A commission will ensure sure stores receiving licenses meet certain criteria, such as selling a percentage of produce as well.