The sale of alcoholic beverages in California requires a license from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, commonly referred to as ABC. An application must be filed for this license and requires a thorough investigation by the ABC of both the people applying for the license and the premises where the alcoholic beverages will be sold. This investigation process also involves soliciting for protests by anyone in the area of the premises involved, including the general public, other business owners and local government officials.

Some of the reasons for denial could include the following:

Disapproval of Applicant

The ABC will conduct a background investigation of the license applicant. If the applicant does not pass this investigation, the liquor license application will be denied. Some reasons for such a denial are a criminal background, substance abuse record, falsifying of application information, is under 21 years old or is not the bona fide owner of the business. The investigation will also look into the applicant’s past business history, especially anything to do with the alcoholic beverage industry.

Disapproval of Premises 

The premises where the alcohol will be sold and its location must be deemed suitable or the license application will be denied. The premises must be properly zoned and constructed. It cannot be too close to certain places such as schools, house of worship, hospitals or youth facilities. If there are too many other such alcoholic beverage businesses in the local area, the application will be denied. If it is deemed that the operation of the business will cause a public nuisance in the area will also cause a denial.

Local Government Protests

The ABC notifies the local government and law enforcement agency for the premises’ location, and they are allowed to file a protest against the issuing of the license. Some valid reasons for protests that will cause denial are showing that there is a zoning violation; that the location is in a high crime area, that the business will create a public nuisance or that there are too many liquor businesses in that area and there is no public benefit served by the applicant’s business.

Public Protests

Any person or entity is allowed to file a protest against the issuance of the license by ABC. Such a protest must be filed within 30 days of the required posting of a notice of license application on the premises or within 30 days of the required mailed notice made to all residents located within 500 feet of the proposed business. If protests show the same reasons as government officials can as stated above, the application can be denied.

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