LA City Planning Wants to Make Restaurant Alcohol Permits Easier to Obtain

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Department of City Planning today announced the framework for a program intended to make it easier for sit-down restaurants to obtain permits to serve alcoholic beverages once stay-at-home orders are lifted.

“Restaurant owners invest not only in their employees but also in the well-being of our city, its economy and the neighborhoods that we serve,” Director of Planning Vince Bertoni said. “In developing this program, we made it easier to enforce against any bad actors, while still giving small business owners a leg up.”

The proposed Restaurant Beverage Program would shorten the time it takes the city to approve licenses for alcohol sales from months to a matter of weeks.

According to City Planning, the profit margin from sales of alcoholic beverages has helped restaurant owners stay afloat during sharp rises in rent and payroll costs and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in March that alcohol can be delivered to people from restaurants as part of their meals while the Safer at Home orders are in place.

Restaurant owners would pay about $4,000 for a permit to serve alcohol, significantly less than the permit's current price tag of $13,000.

Nightclubs, bars and liquor stores would not be eligible to take advantage of the proposed program. Operators of those establishments would continue to apply through a separate discretionary process that involves community input, according to City Planning officials.

To prevent the proliferation of alcohol-serving establishments, City Planning requires applicants to have an operational kitchen and full menu and adhere to “strict standards.” Any operator found to be in repeat violation of the standards would be suspended from the program.

City Planning is drafting a separate but related ordinance that would impose standards on operators who received a state license to serve alcohol before the city issued alcohol permits.

The proposal would empower the city to address issues that communities overburdened by alcohol sales often face, according to the department.

The City Planning Commission is slated to consider the Restaurant Beverage Program in the coming months. Prior to that public hearing, City Planning will host a webinar in May to share the details of the program and answer questions.

Details on how to participate in the virtual session will be posted at once they are available.

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