Take Another One Down, and Pass It Around

“5.08.100 Imposition of conditions upon any licensee requesting a letter of public convenience or necessity.
A. No letter of public convenience or necessity shall be issued by the chief of police nor approved by the planning and design commission on appeal unless the proposed licensee agrees, in writing, that if the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board issues a license to sell alcoholic beverages, the license will be subject to the following conditions at all times the license is in use:
1. Sales of beer and malt beverages shall be in quantities of not less than a six-pack;…”

Sacramento City Code

BevMo_logo

On the evening of June 12th, I had the opportunity to attend the pre-opening event for journalists, bloggers, and media at the new BevMo! Liquor store at 1700 J Street here in Sacramento. I have to be fully honest when I say that my motivation for attending the event was not the chance to see the new store prior to the opening to the general public nor to enjoy sampling the free wine, beer and food offered as part of the event(though I have to admit that the drinks and food were excellent).

Unlike the other bloggers and writers there, I was most interested in seeing what BevMo management had to say regarding the exception that was granted to the store to sell beer, craft or not, in less than six-packs and to see how it came about. This was in followup to a story I had written on the subject back in March here in the Sacramento Press.

I started off by asking a couple of the employees who were serving drink and food what they knew about the situation. They were unaware of the waiver given to their employer. I was able to speak with the store’s new General Manager who suggested that Elizabeth Zaninovich, Store Development Manager for BevMo, would be best able to answer my question. He was kind enough to locate Ms. Zaninovich for me.

I asked her my question again regarding the exception to the code requirement that beer be sold in six-packs. Her first response was, “The Code actually does not say that beer has to be sold in six-packs.” When I told her that I had actually looked it up(see quote at beginning of story) and that it did say that beer had to be sold in six-packs.

Ms. Zaninovich then moved onto her second explanation. “Given the importance of the craft beer industry to Sacramento, the Police Department had worked with BevMo to put into the store’s conditional use permit that sales of ‘couples'(two-packs of craft beers) would be allowed. The Police Department assisted in getting this condition past the City Council and the ABC(the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control).” Ms. Zaninovich added, “Our POS system is set up so that anyone wanting to purchase singles of the craft beers has to buy two of them, though not necessarily the same brand. The system is programmed not to allow the purchase of just a single can.”

This still begs the question which has never been answered publicly by the Police Department. By what legal authority do they allow the sale of a less than six-pack of beer when the City Code specifically prohibits it. Can the Police Chief and/or those under his authority rewrite the law to suit their own purpose or that of specific businesses without City Council action? A request for comment from the Sacramento Police Department was not responded to by the time this article was written. If past experience on seeking comment from the Department and ABC is any indicator, it will be more buck-passing(or in this case, bottle-passing)back and forth.

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