Local News

Two new bars proposed for downtown despite current alcohol-related problems

Over the years the city of Fullerton has approved 58 alcohol licenses in the 12-block downtown Restaurant Overlay District (ROD). Recent police records show numerous incidences of assaults, rapes, DUIs, and vandalism in the downtown area, which all cost taxpayers in extra police services and maintenance.

Despite this, two new bars are planning to move into downtown Fullerton. Both proposed businesses currently have Alcohol, Beverage Control (ABC) licenses pending: High Horse Saloon, which is replacing the former Florentines and Palapas restaurants at the corner of Harbor and Commonwealth, and World of Beer, which could displace Blanquel Popular Art and Semilla (plant store) at 109 S. Harbor Blvd.

Florencio Blanquel of Blanquel Popular Art may be displaced by a new bar.

According to the ABC, “Both local municipalities, and the ABC monitor the number of restaurants serving alcohol within census tracts to avoid “overconcentration” and/or “high crime” rates.”

“Overconcentration” means that the ratio of existing licenses to population exceeds the ratio of licenses to population in a census tract. “High crime” exists if the crime rate exceeds the municipality’s average by 20% or more. It is possible for two adjacent restaurants to be in separate census tracts and subject to different requirements based upon overconcentration and crime rates.

If either overconcentration or high crime rates exist, then applicants may need to obtain a finding of “public convenience and necessity” (PCN), which may include an additional public hearing. By state law, if the local municipality does not grant a PCN approval, then the Alcohol Beverage Control cannot approve your license application,” according to the ABC website.

The Restaurant Overlay District (ROD) was approved by Council in 2002, which reduced some requirements for businesses locating downtown (such as adequate parking), and also facilitated “findings of public convenience and necessity” allowing a high concentration of alcohol licenses.

In 2008, then City Manager Chris Meyer assembled the Downtown Working Group composed of all department heads plus extra audit personnel to investigate costs within the ROD. The group reported results of the audit to the City Council showing the cost to the City (taxpayers) for extra policing and clean-up downtown was $935,000 over and above the sales taxes collected and that due to higher crimes in the area, more policing was needed. New officers were hired for that purpose, bringing the cost to $1.6 million per year. A more recent audit has not been done.

To read the 2008 Downtown Working Group report (including the Restaurant Overlay District map) click HERE.

The Planning Commission will consider whether to issue a conditional use permit for World of Beer at their November 17 meeting. The meeting will take place at City Hall (303 W Commonwealth Ave.) at 6:30pm. Members of the public may give public comment. Contact the City Clerk at (714) 738-6350. To view the meeting online and make public comment visit https://fullerton.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.

6 replies »

  1. Ah, another den for inebriated Cal State students to stagger out of and puke all over the sidewalk! How uplifting! How prescient! Hey, how about some improvements for LOWER Fullerton? Y’know, the South Side without the horsies?

    Hell, I could carve a better city council and mayor out of some bananas.

  2. Please don’t close down Blanquels and Semilla Plants. Blanquel has been here for awhile and Semilla is new and I love this place….can’t they find a place which is empty? Peace

  3. It is disturbing to realize downtown has been a drain for so many years. No one I know wants to chase out the last remaining unique daytime businesses and legit restaurants. The problem bar businesses are making big profits from the 6,000 or so nightlife visitors so you would think the liquor-related high crime rate, extra clean-up & enforcement cost to taxpayers should have spurred faster action. I hope it isn’t that the most troublesome bars seem to contribute generously to a few of our council members campaigns. Possibly a contributing factor is the “Bar Map” approved by the last council that included a gerrymandered finger from each of our 5 voting districts stretching all the way downtown which prevented downtown and its surrounding homes from being one contiguous district. It will be interesting to see if the new map being devised by council appointees fixes that flaw.

  4. And amazingly city staff and some councilmembers continue to characterize the area as a municipal asset when it is clearly a financial liability. Fullerton.