At the urging of parents, teachers and community leaders, Glendale has joined dozens of other cities in banning the sale of alcoholic beverages at gas stations.
In so doing, the City Council ignored a recommendation by the city's Planning Commission and unanimously approved an ordinance prohibiting the sale of all alcoholic beverages at any business that also sells gasoline.
The Planning Commission had said the ordinance would discriminate against gas stations. It recommended that the city approve liquor sales at stations on a case-by-case basis. However, council members said they want the city clearly on record as opposed to mixing drinking and driving.
7 Businesses Affected
The ordinance will force about half a dozen businesses in Glendale, including a vintage gas station with a mini-market in remote Chevy Chase Canyon and a 7-Eleven store that opened recently, to get rid of their alcohol or shut down their pumps.
Businesses have a year to comply, and no new business selling both alcohol and gas will be permitted, city officials said.
Noting that accidents resulting from alcohol abuse are the leading cause of death among young people, council members said the ordinance is designed to make alcohol less accessible to teen-agers.
Conversion of service stations into mini-markets, where beer and wine are sold, and addition of gasoline pumps at all-night convenience stores have become a nationwide trend. A city staff report said the combination creates a "problem of convenient, impulsive liquor purchase and consumption."
Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg, who said she is angered by the ease with which minors purchase alcohol, told a representative of a convenience store chain, "If I had my way, you would not be allowed to sell any liquor, period, whether you sold gas or not." Licenses to sell alcoholic beverages are issued by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, not by the city.
Priscilla E. Mahnken of Glendale's Community Parent Alert, an organization founded almost two years ago in an attempt to halt alcohol sales to minors, told council members that she was "greatly disturbed" by the Planning Commission's recommendation and urged the council to ignore it.
Representatives of several convenience store chains argued that the law would unfairly penalize them. Hubert Harwood of Circle K, asking for a case-by-case review, pleaded that the city "not take an ax and chop down the tree." Councilman Carl Raggio, however, noting that only a small number of stores have added pumps in Glendale, said, "The tree is a seedling here."
Nabil Eskander, manager of St. George Mini Mart in Chevy Chase Canyon, said the new law will force him to remove the three gasoline pumps from his tiny station that has served the remote canyon community for decades. He said the station, converted to a mini-market several years ago, is the only market and gas station in the area. The next closest stations and markets are four miles away.
Eskander acknowledges that he sells little gas (his gas prices are higher than at most stations). He said he will get rid of the pumps and keep the beer and wine, which account for 15% of his sales. He said the pumps are there as a convenience to residents, their gardeners and other service workers and to construction workers in the rapidly growing area.
Joe Saraceno of Glendale, chairman of the 1,800-member National Coalition of 7-Eleven Franchises, called the new Glendale law "almost as silly as Prohibition." He said, "If a man wants to buy a six-pack of beer, he's going to buy it somewhere. This law in Glendale is going to have no effect on the volume of sales of alcohol."
Saraceno predicted that owners of convenience stores will eliminate gas sales rather than alcoholic beverages.
A report to the council by the city planning staff warned that measures pending before the state Legislature would prohibit cities from outlawing the combined sale of alcohol and gasoline. Bremberg urged community leaders to contact state representatives to press for defeat of the bills, SB 2522 by Sen. Ken Maddy (R-Fresno) and AB 4146 by Assemblywoman Gwen Moore (D-Los Angeles).
The League of California Cities says 46 other cities of 424 in the state prohibit the sale of liquor at service stations.