WESTMINSTER : Liquor License Rules May Be Stiffened

Local business owners wanting to sell alcohol soon may find it harder to get a license.

City officials last week asked the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to enforce tighter controls on liquor licenses in an effort to reduce crime.

Officials said studies have shown that more crimes are committed in areas where alcohol is sold extensively, and have asked ABC to limit or deny new liquor permits in high-crime neighborhoods or places where alcohol-related businesses are concentrated.

“It’s a crime prevention technique that will better enable us to control conditions that create crime,” Police Chief James Cook said.


Several other Orange County cities also have asked ABC to apply tougher conditions before granting alcohol licenses, according to Marianne J. Eckhoff, an investigator at the ABC district office in Santa Ana.

In Orange, Santa Ana, Seal Beach and Garden Grove, ABC can deny a license to a business located in an area that has 20% more reported crimes than other city neighborhoods, Eckhoff said.

“This allows cities to divert businesses away from certain neighborhoods,” she said. “This is not anti-business, but a law enforcement tool.”

Eckhoff said that 154 businesses in Westminster hold liquor licenses. They include restaurants, nightclubs and stores.


Detective Bob Gill of the Westminster Police Department said that 14 city districts, including sections of Little Saigon, Golden West Street and Westminster Boulevard, are considered high-crime areas.

In addition, there are 10 census tracts which have a high concentration of liquor stores, he said. The police will provide annual crime data to ABC to help the agency determine in which areas of the city new liquor licenses could be restricted.