Isla Vista residents will have to make do with one less liquor store for at least a month.

State authorities shut down S.O.S. Liquor for offenses between October 2003 and January 2004 related to the sale of alcohol. The violations included selling alcohol to minors, failing to keep accurate records of keg sales and not affixing tracking labels to kegs, said Ed Macias, district supervisor of the Santa Barbara branch of the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC).

As a result of the violations, S.O.S. Liquor will be closed from May 7 to June 7, and the ABC is requiring the owners to sell the store’s liquor license, Macias said.

“California has, in essence, a three-strike rule, and it only deals with sales or service of alcohol to a person under age 21,” he said.

In addition, whoever buys S.O.S.’s license must petition for a conditional license with three requirements, Macias said. The new owner cannot deliver alcohol to a residence; cannot sell wine that has an alcohol content of more than 15 percent by volume, except for dinner wine; and must use more stringent methods when checking identification, including the use of an optical scanning machine and an ultraviolet light. These conditions are being imposed onto the license, and the new owner will have to abide by the rules as well.

According to Macias, another business owner in Santa Barbara County has already applied to buy S.O.S.’s license. The ABC is currently in the process of reviewing the application.

“They will have to sign the conditions that are imposed on this particular license and be happy with them, as well as the standard condition for Isla Vista – which is, everything ceases at midnight,” Macias said.

I.V. Foot Patrol Lt. Tom McKinny said the potential owner, who runs another liquor store in downtown Santa Barbara and a burrito eatery in Carpenteria, has agreed to abide by the restrictions of the current license.

“We’ve talked to the new owner, trying to get him to understand our concerns out here,” McKinny said. “He’s considering more of a market that sells liquor, not a liquor store that sells snacks.”

Macias said ABC found out about the store’s sale of alcohol to underage people through IVFP reports and patrols.

“Most of it was the officers ended up, for one particular reason or another, watching some kid exit the location with alcohol,” Macias said. “They stopped the kid and determined the age. An investigation at the scene would reflect there was a sale.”

S.O.S. has a reputation among locals for selling to minors, McKinny said.

“In the spirit of cooperation, we’re trying to change that, to let people know it’s not business as usual,” McKinny said.

Penalties for violation of the three-strike rule depend on the number of offenses a store has within a 36-month period.

“The first time, within 36 months, the penalty will be depending to the case itself and the track record of the licensee,” Macias said. “In other words, we’ll handle it according to standard penalties.”

As the number of offenses increases, the penalties become more severe.

“The second violation within 26 months mandates that we suspend the license,” Macias said. “The third incident within 36 months gives the state of California the right to revoke the license.”
-Staff writer Daniel Haier contributed to this report.