Culver City OKs 1st Reading of Alcohol Sale Curb

Times Staff Writer

The City Council of Culver City on Monday approved the first reading of a law prohibiting owners of new gasoline station mini-marts from selling alcoholic beverages.

The council acted despite objections from the Atlantic Richfield Co. that there was no conclusive evidence that selling alcohol at gas stations results in drunk driving.

The ban would allow Culver City's five existing gas station mini-marts to continue to sell alcohol until they are sold or leased. The council declared a moratorium on permits for gas station mini-marts in November.

The proposed ordinance was approved 4 to 1 with Councilman Ron Perkins opposed. A second reading will take place March 17. The Planning Commission approved the ban Feb. 12.

City Planner Jay Cunningham said city officials believe it is inappropriate to allow the sale of alcohol where customers buy gas. He added, however, that the city had no evidence that selling alcohol at gas stations leads to drunk driving.

"Studies on the relation (of) gas (and) alcohol sales offer conflicting conclusions," he said.

Don Davis, a representative of Atlantic Richfield, told the council that a study by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board found no connection between the sale of alcohol at gas stations and drunk driving. He said that surveys conducted by the cities of La Brea and Fullerton found that most drunk driving offenders drank at bars before their arrests.

Davis said the company, which leases two AM-PM mini-mart franchises in Culver City, would prefer that the city require station owners to apply for conditional-use permits that would restrict alcohol sales rather than imposing the ban.

Perkins said the city should consider issuing conditional-use permits to station owners on a trial basis.

The city of Los Angeles is considering a law similar to Culver City's.

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