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Santa Rosa says no to Big Lots liquor sales

By KEVIN McCALLUM

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Big Lots won’t be able to sell cheap booze in Santa Rosa.

The City Council on Tuesday rejected the discount retailer’s request to sell beer and wine over fears that the sale of big-lots-storeinexpensive alcohol was unnecessary and might create problems in the high-crime area north of Santa Rosa Junior College.

“I’m in that area a lot, and unfortunately public intoxication is all too common,” Councilman Gary Wysocky said. “We don’t need another outlet there.”

State alcohol laws require the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to deny a license to sell alcohol “if issuance of that license would tend to create a law enforcement problem, or if issuance would result in or add to an undue concentration of licenses.”

The department can still issue a license if the local jurisdiction concludes that the “public convenience or necessity would be served” by the license. In this case, there isn’t an overconcentration of licenses in the area, but there is a crime problem, according to Santa Rosa police.

The store is at Mendocino Avenue and Steele Lane, and crime statistics from that area make it a “high- crime reporting district,” according to police. That’s defined by the state as an area where crime reports are 20 percent higher than other districts. The district had 225 crimes reported in 2012, or 57 percent higher than average.

Calls for service in 2011 showed public intoxication to be the No. 1 problem reported in the area, according to police.

Big Lots is what is known as a closeout retailer, meaning it sells products discounted by the manufacturer or retailer in an effort to reduce inventory.

The company is based in Columbus, Ohio, and has more than 1,500 stores in the United States and Canada, including 170 in California.

The Police Department stressed that Big Lots would get its beer and wine from other retailers and would sell it at a discount.

“The Police Department believes that allowing another off-sale alcohol establishment in this area would serve to perpetuate the already criminal and nuisance type of behavior taking place in this area,” Lt. Jerry Soares wrote.

Company officials argued that most of its other stores in California sell beer and wine; it would only display alcohol in a 20-foot-long area of its 22,500-square-foot store, and that it would sell popular beer and wine brands and not fortified wine.

Additionally, while its prices would be low, they would not be “overly discounted” in an effort to create a “separate demand” for alcohol purchases, but rather for the convenience of its existing customers, the company said.

But city staff remained unconvinced, and said they noted that “the lower-cost beer and wine would be sold in an area that is already stricken with alcohol-related problems.”

The company appealed to the council, which rejected the request 7-0.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @citybeater.





3 Responses to “Santa Rosa says no to Big Lots liquor sales”

  1. Snarky says:

    Tom:

    I do believe you are correct just from the little I have read.

    This is an example of how government has ruined our once free enterprise system of living.

    Not only do they wrongly interfere in our daily lives, they lie about the reasons behind their actions.

    In this event, it does appear to be just the middle finger to a particular business model that they dislike.

    And since they are the “authority,” we are expected to admire and obey.

  2. Steveguy says:

    So I can get a $2 bottle of wine from Walmart in Windsor, or Trader Joe’s ( gotta fight through the Prius driver jams there, be patient Steve, be patient) but I can’t get one at Big Lots ? I love Big Lots ! They have some awesome deals on some pretty good stuff.

    For shame the City Council make me burn carbon to make a special trip, can I get a credit for that ?

    Did CVS contribute to the campaigns ? Just sayin’, money talks, and they walk away with it.

    It is my old ‘hood and how dare they call it crime ridden ? Oh, some rowdy college kids causing no harm, and the local ‘bums’ are pretty cool and part of the fabric. Some meth freaks, mostly all tame and wonderful. I still go to the area for shopping etc. I have lived on both Pacific and Humboldt. I don’t consider it a crime area, unless the ever-exuberant wanna-be Jr College Cops are about. They look for trouble.

  3. Tom says:

    This has nothing to do with concern for the community. They just let a bar open in the same complex and hundreds of places sell cheap booze in the area. This is basically a giant middle finger to big box stores but our short sighted and ignorant officials. things like this are the reason Santa Rosa is no known as business friendly.