Maddy Puts Liquor Bill on the Shelf

Times Staff Writer

A controversial bill that would prohibit local governments from using their zoning powers to control the sale of beer and wine by convenience stores was shelved by its author Monday following intense lobbying by a South-Central Los Angeles community group.

The legislation also contained a provision that would bar a city or county from outlawing the sale of beer at gas stations. The bill’s sponsors had argued that sales of gasoline and alcoholic beverages are virtually unrelated to drunk driving.

The legislation, supported by major convenience stores and some oil companies, was scheduled for consideration by the Senate Governmental Organization Committee today, the last day it could be acted upon under a legislative deadline. But the proposal was quietly removed from the committee agenda by its author, Sen. Kenneth Maddy (R-Fresno).


Not Enough Votes

A Maddy aide said backers of the bill asked that the measure not be considered, an indication that they lacked enough votes for approval. Unless Maddy later seeks a difficult-to-achieve rule waiver or takes some other extraordinary action, the bill likely has no future.

Basically, the legislation was aimed at bypassing tough local ordinances that put sales of beer, wine and liquor under strict conditional-use permit procedures that do not apply to other retailer products. The City of Los Angeles adopted such a law two years ago with the strong support of the South-Central Organizing Committee.

“We feel like we played a big part in getting (the Maddy bill) dropped,” said Gwen Cordova of the South-Central committee, who spearheaded an intensive lobbying effort in the Capitol. She said each time the measure was scheduled to be considered by the Governmental Organization Committee, lobbying efforts were stepped up and a hearing on the measure repeatedly was postponed until today’s showdown deadline was reached.

“We feel this is a victory in a sense because of our lobbying,” she said. “We kept pushing it back, pushing it back until they got to the end of the line.”

Support for Measure

Cordova maintained that it would have been wrong to undo local zoning controls in South-Central Los Angeles, a region that has one of the highest concentrations of liquor outlets in the country. The measure was supported by Southland Corp., operator of many 7-Eleven stores, Circle K Corp., Quick Stop Markets Inc., Beacon Oil Co., Thrifty Oil Co., and USA Petroleum.

Backers of the legislation contended that local government imposes so many conditions on how convenience stores operate that they are put at a competitive disadvantage. The bill, basically, held that no conditions could be imposed on one store that were not imposed on every other retailer of food or beverages.