The short answer is that the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) protested applications will take longer.

It is important to understand the process the ABC has put in place to handle opposition to a license application.  There are a number of factors that determine how long a protested license application will take to complete.  Among them:

  • Has the protest been verified by the ABC as a valid protest?
  • Will the protestant withdraw their protest based on operating restrictions placed on the license?
  • Will the protest be heard before a Judge at an ABC Administrative Hearing?

Any person may protest the issuance of a license. The protestant must file a written protest within 30 days of either the ABC posting date or the resident mailing date; whichever is later. If an application is withdrawn because of a protest being filed, an applicant may not re-file an application at the same premises for one year.  All protests remain valid for one year against any subsequent applications filed by other persons at the premises.

When an individual files a formal protest against the issuance of an ABC license, there are several steps the ABC takes to ensure that the rights of the applicant and the protestant are preserved and protected.  Often times the ABC will place operating restrictions on the license to the satisfaction of the protestant, prompting them to withdraw their protest.  In this case, the protest is removed and the application proceeds as normal.

If a protestant chooses not to withdraw their protest, the ABC will make a recommendation to approve or deny the applications.  If either party requests an administrative hearing, the ABC will schedule one.  This hearing offers both the applicant and the protestant an opportunity to testify as to the merits of why the license should be granted or why it should not be.  It is possible that a protest hearing may not occur for six months or more from the application date.

Ordinarily a protest hearing will be held in the county seat of the county in which the premises is located. However, if an official protest is made by the governing body of a city, the hearing shall be held within such city.

In the interim, if the ABC has recommended approval of the license prior to the hearing, the applicant may petition for an Interim Retail Permit (IRP). This allows the applicant to operate pending the protest hearing and any appeal. The fee for the permit is $100. It is good for up to 120 days subject to renewals; there is no property right in the permit.

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