An Isla Vista convenience store will probably not receive an off-site liquor sales license, county officials said.
Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) District Supervisor for Santa Barbara County Ed Macias said there are currently six off-site liquor sales licenses issued in Isla Vista and approval of the I.V. Deli Mart’s application would exceed the allotted limit of licenses for the area. A state statute dictates that only a certain number liquor licenses may be issued in a particular area, as based on U.S. Census population data.
“Consequently, this particular applicant, is looking at the high feasibility of a denial based on the fact it can’t meet that criteria of that particular section [of the statute],” Macias said.
I.V. Deli Mart’s owner, Michael Hassan, has a couple of options to save his application from complete rejection. He can request a relocation of the license application to another area in the county, Macias said. Each application is tied to a specific store location, but a business can request to have the license moved to another place in the county if the ABC determines it to be for a good reason.
“Quite frankly, being protested is a good cause,” Macias said.
Sixty-two people have protested the store’s application, Macias said. At least 30 of the protesters are UCSB employees, including Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services George Pernsteiner and I.V. Action Group Co-chairs Harry Nelson and Catherine Cole. While only individuals, not the university as a whole, can file formal protest papers, individual people could represent the university.
“[This] means those individual people are entitled to an administrative hearing to be heard on their objection,” Macias said.
Although the protesters and Hassan are entitled to a hearing with the ABC board, no such hearing will be scheduled until the ABC makes a final decision, Macias said.
If Hassan were to relocate his request for a license, he would have to go through the same application processes again, Macias said. While he has considered the option, Hassan said he has not decided whether or not to ask for a relocation of the application.
“It’s a long process and even if we find another place, we have to go through the same process again, and there is no guarantee that we will get [the license],” Hassan said.
The other road open to Hassan would be for him to obtain a Letter of Public Convenience or Necessity from the local governing body in favor of his acquisition of a license, Macias said. The letter would waive the state statute and is the only way for the ABC to consider Hassan’s application of a license in I.V.
But 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall has, so far, opposed the store’s application. In her Jan. 6 letter to Macias, Marshall said she finds “no justification of convenience or necessity for issuing the alcohol beverage licensed requested by the Isla Vista Deli Mart. …”
“In this case, Gail Marshall, being a supervisor, gave us a letter,” Macias said. “That’s enough for this system to stop at that point.”
Marshall went on to say in the letter that her office has “long been an advocate for responsible alcohol consumption and has supported specific alcohol license requests.”
“However, at this point in time, an additional off-sale permit in Isla Vista is not necessary and runs counter to our long-range planning efforts for the downtown business area,” Marshall wrote in the letter.
Finally, Marshall wrote that future on-site liquor licenses, as for alcoholic drinks a customer can order with a meal in a restaurant, however, would be reviewed by Marshall based on “the value the establishment brings to Isla Vista and its compatibility with our updated community plan.”
Neither Marshall nor her assistant, Mark Chaconas, could be reached for further comment.
Hassan, who applied for the license in December 2003, said he did not agree with Marshall’s assessment of his application.
“They are allowing on-site liquor sales, but not off-site. So with on-site [sales] you can sit and get drunk at a restaurant and walk out into the street,” he said. “But with off-site [liquor sales], you can take it to your home and drink.”
Macias said the application process has no time limit, and the ABC does not have a deadline for when it must give Hassan a definitive answer.
The ABC is a statewide department that authorized to issue liquor licenses. Each year, the state determines how many new on-site and off-site liquor licenses, if any, each county may offer to businesses. In 2003, Santa Barbara County was able to grant two new off-site licenses.
Hassan entered an August 2003 county raffle for the chance to apply for a license. Two winners, including Hassan, were picked from an applicant pool of three businesses. The other winner was a business not located in I.V.
Mac’s Market, Isla Vista Market, the Six-Pak Shop, S.O.S. Liquor, International Food Market and the Isla Vista Food Co-op currently hold the six licenses in I.V.