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LAWNDALE : Measure to Limit New Liquor Licenses Studied

March 24, 1994|SCOTT SANDELL

The City Council is considering an ordinance to sharply limit the number of new liquor licenses issued in Lawndale.

The proposed law, which would allow one more bar and two liquor stores in the city, is scheduled to go to the Planning Commission next month. The council, which unanimously backed a draft of the measure, could vote on it by late April.

City and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials said alcohol sales have contributed to loitering and graffiti.

"This is not to say we have a severe problem," Councilman Norm Lagerquist said. "It's really a safeguard measure. The view is that we have enough of these types of establishments and don't need many more."

But managers and owners of several bars and liquor stores said their businesses are being unfairly singled out.

"I run a clean operation," said Gary Simmons, manager of McNamara's Liquor. "I've been in business since 1978 and have never had a citation. I don't allow people to loiter in front of my store."

Council members emphasized that the proposed law is part of a plan to diversify the city's economic base. The council expects to receive a study from a private consulting firm later this month on revitalizing Lawndale's struggling retail sector.

"It's just not good to have an overabundance of one type of business, no matter what it is," Councilwoman Nancy J. Marthens said.

As of December, Lawndale had 49 businesses with liquor licenses, primarily along Hawthorne Boulevard. That number is about average for comparably sized cities in Los Angeles County, officials said.

The proposed law would limit the issuance of liquor licenses based on the city's population.

In addition, new liquor stores would have to be at least 600 feet from schools, churches, parks and public playgrounds.

Restaurants and supermarkets would be exempt from the proposed law.

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