SACRAMENTO — A controversial bill that would restrict the authority of cities and counties to outlaw the sale of alcoholic beverages and gasoline at the same location was passed Friday by the Assembly and sent to the state Senate.
By a vote of 42 to 18, the Assembly gave its approval to legislation that would wipe off the books at least 30 local laws enacted by cities to prohibit the simultaneous sale of gasoline and alcoholic beverages.
Called a compromise by its supporters, the bill would allow local governments to keep the power they now have under zoning laws to restrict or prohibit such sales at convenience stores and gas stations on a case-by-case basis.
Ten cities in Orange County have enacted ordinances outlawing sale of alcoholic beverages at gas station mini-marts. Under one version of the bill, ordinances in Costa Mesa, Garden Grove, Laguna Beach, San Juan Capistrano, Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach would be struck down because their ordinances were passed after Aug. 1, 1985.
Similar ordinances in Fountain Valley, Newport Beach, Orange and Seal Beach were passed before that date and would not be affected.
Because the Senate has not yet acted, it is not clear whether the Aug. 1 cutoff will be contained in the final legislation.
The measure by Assemblyman Gary A. Condit (D-Ceres) has the support of Atlantic Richfield Co. (AM-PM Mini-Marts), Southland Corp. (7-Eleven stores) and other industry groups that together contributed more than $700,000 to legislators last session.
It is also supported by the League of California Cities, whose lobbyists said they helped draft the measure to prevent enactment of a more restrictive bill.
But Condit's legislation has been strongly opposed by cities such as Glendale whose bans would be nullified by the legislation. The California PTA and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have also registered their opposition to the bill.
Some cities, acting at the behest of such groups as the PTA, have moved to ban the joint sale of gasoline and alcoholic beverages on the grounds that it contributes to the incidence of drunk driving.
Businesses affected by the bans have turned to both the Legislature and the courts to nullify them, contending that there is no proof that the simultaneous sale of fuel and alcohol leads to drinking and driving.
Despite local objections to Condit's legislation, little effort was mounted on the floor of the Assembly to defeat it. In fact, the strongest criticism came from Assemblyman Stan Statham (R-Oak Run), who contended that the bill allowed local governments too much authority to impose restrictions on convenience stores and gas stations.
The lack of strong opposition surprised Condit, who took it as a sign that his effort at compromise was succeeding, according to his aide, Mike Lynch.
"Its not nearly as emotional and volatile an issue as we expected when we first introduced the bill," Lynch said.
In an attempt to soften criticism of his bill, Condit had included provisions that would restrict the advertising of alcoholic beverages at outlets also selling gasoline and would allow authorities to close such stores for 72 hours if they were caught selling alcohol to minors.