California Wildfires Advisory Information for ABC Licensees
This information is being provided by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to address some of the questions licensed businesses may have following the recent wildfires in California.
Disclaimer: Industry advisories are not regulatory, nor do they have the force of law. These advisories serve merely to help clarify what statutes/regulations mean. Please consult the statute, regulation, and/or an attorney before taking any action to ensure compliance with the law.
ABC will continue to answer questions as communities strive to recover from the fires. The Department is committed to being as flexible as possible with licensees. Department representatives are available to provide information and to assist licensees with questions and issues.
The information below is not the only assistance that may be available to licensees impacted by the fires.
Napa, Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino Counties
Licensees who may have questions about fires in Napa, Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino Counties can contact the ABC Santa Rosa District Office by phone (707) 576-2165 or e-mail at SantaRosa@abc.ca.gov
The office is prepared to respond promptly to licensure issues, and is located at 50 D Street, Room 130, Santa Rosa CA, 95404.
Butte, Plumas, Shasta, Trinity, Tehama, and Glenn Counties
Licensees who may have questions about fires in Butte, Plumas, Shasta, Trinity, Tehama, and Glenn Counties can contact the ABC Redding District Office by phone (530) 224-4830 or e-mail at Redding@abc.ca.gov
The office is prepared to respond promptly to licensure issues, and is located at 1900 Churn Creek Rd., Suite 215, Redding CA, 96002.
Licensees who may have questions about fires in Butte, Plumas, Shasta, Trinity, Tehama, and Glenn Counties may also contact the Sacramento District Office by phone (916) 419-1319 or e-mail at Sacramento@abc.ca.gov.
The office is prepared to respond promptly to licensure issues, and is located at 2400 Del Paso Road, Suite 155, Sacramento, CA 95834.
Fresno and Madera Counties
Licensees who may have questions about fires in Fresno and Madera Counties can contact the ABC Fresno District Office by phone (559) 225-6334 or e-mail at Fresno@abc.ca.gov.
The office is prepared to respond promptly to licensure issues, and is located at 1330 B East Shaw Avenue, Fresno CA, 93710-7902.
Licensees who may have questions about fires in Mariposa County can contact the ABC Stockton District Office by phone (209) 948-7739 or e-mail at Stockton@abc.ca.gov.
The office is prepared to respond promptly to licensure issues, and is located at 31 East Channel Street, Room 168, Stockton CA, 95202.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I relocate business operations following a major fire disaster?
Yes, a licensee is provided relief when their licensed premises suffers property damage or has been destroyed by a fire or other act of God. They are allowed to carry on business for a period up to 6 months at a location within 1000 feet of their premises, while their premises is being repaired or rebuilt. See recently enacted AB 3139 (Gray & Chiu) Alcoholic beverages: Licensees. Chaptered by the Secretary of State – Chapter 175, Statutes of 2020 on September 25, 2020, and approved by the Governor on September 25, 2020.
An application will need to be filed with the local ABC district office. There is no fee for this temporary relocation.
The Department may have discretion to extend the period of time and the distance a business may operate at a temporary location pursuant to an Executive Order.
Reference: 24081 B&P, 24082 B&P
What about the storage of alcoholic beverages?
- Tax-paid wine and beer may be stored anywhere in the state. ABC approval is not required.
- Distilled spirits may only be stored on licensed premises, including Type-14 public warehouses. ABC approval is not required to transfer from one storage location to another.
- If alcoholic beverages are stored in a Type-14 public warehouse, ABC approval is not required to transfer them to another Type-14 warehouse or to a private warehouse.
- Distilled spirits may be stored in a private warehouse approved by the Department if within the limits of the county in which the licensee’s premises are located.
- If wine is stored in bond, ABC approval is not required to transfer it to another facility. However, approval of taxing authorities (BOE, TTB) may be required.
Reference: 23106 B&P
Can you tell me about retail license issues related to breakage?
Understanding there may be questions involving broken containers of alcoholic beverage at retail licensed business, we are advising there are no provisions in the ABC Act that permit suppliers (manufacturers and distributors) to replace loss due to breakage caused by natural disasters.
Retailers should file a claim with their insurer for the value of their product. Additionally, if a retail premise closes for a period that exceeds 15 days, or closes permanently, the law requires them to surrender their license. When they have done so, ABC permits suppliers to pick up alcoholic beverages and credit the account of a retailer who has surrendered their license.
With respect to damaged products, please see below under “Can a retail licensee return its inventory to a supplier”.
Reference: Rule 65 CCR, Rule 79 CCR
Are there any tied house exceptions for natural disasters?
The ABC Act provides a tied-house exception for natural disasters. It provides that a manufacturer or wholesaler may give, rent, lend, or sell, any equipment, fixtures, or supplies, other than alcoholic beverages, to a retailer whose equipment, fixtures, or supplies were lost or damaged as a result of a natural disaster and whose premises are located in an area proclaimed to be in a state of disaster by the Governor.
The section does not apply to transactions that occur three months or more after the Governor proclaims an area to be in a state of disaster.
Reference: 25511 B&P
What if the Department has filed an accusation against my license?
Any pending administrative disciplinary action will be held in suspense during this time of recovery.
What about closure of an ABC licensed premises?
If a premise closes for a period that exceeds 15 days, or closes permanently, the law requires the business to surrender their license. Licensees can use the Form ABC-231 located on the ABC website to surrender their license.
Once this is complete, suppliers may pick-up alcoholic beverages and credit the account of the retailer.
Reference: Rule 65 CCR, Rule 79 CCR
Can a retail licensee return its inventory to a supplier?
The ABC Act allows for the return of inventory damaged in fires provided they are returned in exchange for the identical quantity, brand, size of container and item.
It should be noted that suppliers are not required to accept the return of alcoholic beverages from retailers.
Reference: 23104.1 B&P, 23104.2 B&P, 23104.3 B&P
What about sales or returns by insurers or surrendered licensees?
The ABC Act permits a licensee who has surrendered or canceled their license to sell their stock of lawfully acquired alcoholic beverages to a licensee or licensees who are authorized to resell the alcoholic beverages.
The licensee can apply with the Department to sell their stock of alcoholic beverages to any licensee or licensees authorized to resell such alcoholic beverages.
An insurer may, after permission has been granted by the Department, take possession of alcoholic beverages, the containers of which have been damaged by fire, and sell them to licensees who are authorized to sell the alcoholic beverages.
Reference: 23100 B&P, 23104 B&P, Rule 79 (c) CCR, Rule 79 (e) CCR
What must someone who surrendered a license do prior to selling their stock of alcoholic beverages to another licensee?
Form ABC-273 must be completed and submitted to the local ABC office. This form is the application by a former licensee to sell their stock of alcoholic beverages. The form is needed to request permission to sell the stock of alcoholic beverages that remain in inventory once the ABC license is surrendered or canceled pursuant to Rule 65.
Reference: Rule 65 CCR