Source:  Riverside Press Enterprise

Despite opposition, Alcoholic Beverage Consulting Services successfully assists business owners in obtaining liquor licenses for their convenience stores.

Edgar Rodrigues and Rose Banjarian have appealed alcohol permits approved by the city’s planning commission for a 7-Eleven and an ARCO gas station. They are trying to drum up a group of residents to appear Tuesday, when City Council is scheduled to tackle the appeals at their next meeting, 7p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall, 24601 Jefferson Avenue.

Last year, Murrieta revamped its rules for liquor permits, allowing convenience stores to sell beer and wine in areas close to parks, homes and churches that were previously off limits.

The city also made its rules more uniform, and officials said the new guidelines would help cut down on problem establishments by strengthening enforcement policies and regulating advertising, closing times and other aspects of liquor sales.

The two convenience stores on Murrieta Hot Springs Road — the 7-Eleven at Jackson Avenue and the ARCO gas station at Margarita Road — are seeking permits to sell beer and wine.

Under the old rules, the stores would have been too close to homes to qualify for liquor licenses.

Both applications were approved by 3-2 votes of the city’s planning commission.

Murrieta City Planner Cynthia Kinser could not be reached on Friday. Murrieta City Hall is closed Fridays.

The store owners, Paranjit Singh, and Shanti Dewan, also could not be reached.

Rodrigues said the city’s old rules were strict, a selling point when he moved to Murrieta in 2003. He said a proliferation of stores selling booze eroded his former community of Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley, and he moved to Murrieta thinking he was “done with all of the liquor store, gun store, liquor store thing.”

“You get tax revenue, but you give up safety,” Rodrigues said. “You give up these things that define your community.”

In a staff report, Murrieta planners said they recognized that excessive alcohol consumption causes problems, but they didn’t expect issues at the stores because alcohol is secondary to other products sold there. They also noted the area is a commercial zone with no history of alcohol-related problems.

There are five other businesses within a half-mile of the 7-Eleven allowed to sell alcohol for off-site consumption, according to the report.

Rodrigues, who said his brother is a recovering alcoholic, went door to door in his neighborhood to recruit opponents to the permits. He said he may ask to postpone the hearing, because he only learned it was scheduled a week ago and hasn’t had time to organize a group to attend.