The planning commission of the city of Fullerton, on October 26, approved five future venues for the on-site sales of alcohol located in the “Fox Block,” with a possibility of seven more. According to the proposal, these will be added to “The popular Downtown Fullerton area…home to over 61 ABC-licensed restaurants and bars within 6 square blocks…” as stated in the Problem Statement for a grant of $285,000 (of taxpayers’ money) to Fullerton from the California Office of Traffic Safety. This grant was accepted by the city council in its meeting on October 18.
The Fox Block development will include three alcohol licenses within the former Angelo’s and Vinci’s location, and two in a microbrewery, one for manufacture and one for retail. The remainder are sites of seven small restaurants with the potential to apply for ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) licenses. The commissioners also approved a conditional use permit to expand the Type 47 ABC license of the Commonwealth restaurant located in the Williams building to the second and third floors, which are existing event venues.
Two administrative law judges have stated that there is an “overconcentration” of licenses in downtown Fullerton, which means that further applications should be denied. However, that rule is overcome by the applicant for a retail bona fide eating establishment if they “show(s) that public convenience or necessity would be served by the issuance,” Business and Professional Code Section 23958.4. B&P Code Section 23987 requires that notice of an application for a license to sell alcohol be sent to the chief of police, the city council, and the city planning director. The city and/or the police chief then has 30 days to file a protest against another license being issued.
In Fullerton, in 1985, the director of development asked then-Mayor Julie Sa to send a letter to the ABC department directing that notice be sent only to his department. That department just files the notices. No Fullerton council or planning commission has apparently ever questioned this.
In 2008, a Downtown Working Group assembled by the Fullerton city manager reported that the downtown was costing the taxpayers $935,000 over and above the sales taxes collected. Then four police officers were hired for downtown for a cost of $412,000, bringing the total cost of maintenance and enforcement within the eight square blocks to $1,347,000.
The website PourSafe states that the cost to taxpayers for each bar/restaurant in downtown Fullerton is $14,796. B&P Code Section 23815 states: “It is hereby determined that the public welfare and morals require that there be a limitation on the number of premises licensed for the sale of distilled spirits.”
This will be discussed at the City Council meeting Tuesday, November 15, 2022 at 5:30pm.