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5 Simple Steps To Liquor Licensing

January 08, 2020 4 min read

5 Simple Steps To Liquor Licensing

5 Simple Steps Liquor License Noticing


Liquor licensing can be a big step for anyone to take in their career and business.  It involves things that most people have never heard of like Radius Maps, Public Noticing, ABC-207, ABC 247, ABC 251 forms, etc.  There is no reason to make it a daunting or scary process.  It’s actually not a difficult series of steps if you know where to go and who to talk to.  Let’s take a look at what you will need to do:

Step One – The Initial Filing

Pre-Application Steps

The first thing to do is to find your nearest Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) District Office.  This easy link will show all the District Offices by City and by County:

Once an office is selected, a staff member at that office with ask you some questions that will determine they type of license you will need.  The staff member will then advise you on what forms/fees are required to file the application. 

Note:  In some cases, an applicant must first obtain approval from zoning officials, open an escrow or go to the office of the County Recorder for a certified copy of a Notice of Intended Transfer before filing an application with the ABC.


Step Two – The Notification Process

Applicant’s Responsibilities

It is your responsibility to:

  1. Post the Public Notice of Application at the premises for 30 days.
  2. Supply the ABC with information needed for the investigation.

In some cases, the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) may require you to do one or more of the following:

  1. Publish a notice in the newspaper.
  2. Use a Radius Map Service & Public Noticing Company to mail a notice to all residents living within a 500-foot radius of the premises. This service will expedite the process and assure that no mistakes are made that could delay or jeopardize your goal.  One of the best statewide providers of this service is:
  3. Obtain proof from your local planning department that the zoning permits an ABC license.

Notification to Local Officials

ABC will mail a copy of the application to your local officials as required by law.  If this is within the city, a copy will go to the police department, city council and the city planning department.  If your location is within the county, a copy will go to the police department, board of supervisors and the district attorney.  In the event that there are concerns about the license issuance, they may request or impose restrictions on the business operation or them may file a protest.

The most common concerns are:

  1. Does it create a public nuisance?
  2. Would it add crime to the area?
  3. Would it be contrary to zoning law?
  4. Is it located in a high crime area that already has too many licenses and won’t help with public convenience or necessity?

Note:  If you land on #4, the City Council or Board of Supervisors has 90 days to determine this and notify the Alcoholic Beverage Council (ABC).  If the City Council or Board of Supervisors does not decide within 90 days, ABC by issue the license if the applicant shows ABC that issuance would serve public convenience or necessity.  This is commonly referred to as Governmental Red Tape. 

Step Three – Investigation

The ABC will go through a thorough investigation to determine if you and the premises qualify for a license. 

Note:  Any person may protest this process.  To do this, they must file a protest in writing within 30 days of either:

  1. The date the Public Notice Of Application is first posted at the premises OR
  2. You or your Radius Mapping Service mails the Notice of Intention to Engage in the Sale of    Alcoholic Beverages to persons living with a 500-foot radius, whichever is later.

If your retail license application has been protested and the Department has recommended approval of the license, the ABC may issue an Interim Operating Permit upon your written request.

Note:  These are some of the reasons for protest or denial of a license:

  1. The applicant is not qualified.  Some examples:
  • You falsified your application.
  • You have a disqualifying police record.
  • You have a record of chronic insobriety.
  • You are not the true owner.
  • You are not at least 21 years old.
  1. The premises are not suitable. Some examples:
  • The premises are too close to a school, church, hospital, playground, nonprofit youth facility or residence and would disturb the facility or resident. Note:  this is a critical mistake that can happen when doing a radius map of the area without professional assistance.  It’s the equivalent of doing surgery on yourself.  An easy way to insure your application is done successfully is to consult with an expert since there are several services that may apply like the ones listed here:
  • The premises are located in a high crime area and don’t supply public convenience and/or aren’t needed>
  • You don’t have legal tenancy.
  • This will create a public nuisance(Ie: drunks rolling out of your bar vandalizing cars/homes).
  • The zoning is improper for alcohol sales.

License conditions are special restrictions placed on a license.  They may limit hours for sales of alcohol, the type of entertainment you can provide or other things.  These may eliminate the need to deny your license or may cause the protesting person to withdraw their protest.


Step Four – Final Review

The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) will now do their final review.  There are things that may delay them form issuing your license:

  1. Missing or incorrect documents.
  2. Missing or incorrect fees.
  3. Liens placed against escrow by A.) The Board of Equalization, B.) The Franchise Tax Board, C.) The Employment Development Department, D.) Cities & Counties and E.) Local Health Departments.
  4. Your premises are under construction and not are not yet ready to operate.

Step Five – Issuance of a License

After the final review is completed.  The ABC will issue you your license.