Public Hearing Transcript
Transcription of the recorded public meeting on the regulatory action for the Administrative Emergency Decisions from December 2, 2020 held via Zoom.
Download a printable copy of Public Hearing Transcript by clicking the PDF download button.
- Matthew Botting, General Counsel
- Robert de Ruyter, Assistant General Counsel
- Sarah Easter, Associate Governmental Program Analyst
Transcribed by: Colin Richilano, eScribers, LLC, Phoenix, Arizona
Transcribed Recorded Public Meeting
December 2, 2020
MR. BOTTING: All right. Welcome, everyone, to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control public hearing on the pending regulation for Administrative Emergency Decision. You should see on your screen some points, bullet points, that will indicate how to participate in this ‑- in this public hearing.
This is our first time doing a public hearing via Zoom; a little unusual, so please bear with us as we go through this. So just to reiterate the bullet points, I know you can read them, but if you would like to register with our moderator, Sarah Easter, to speak during this public hearing, please click on the raise your hand button so that she may register your participation and she will then call on you.
When you are called upon to speak, you may speak for five minutes to make your comments. You can speak multiple times, but each time will be a five‑minute maximum, so you’ll have to raise your hand again to reregister if you have additional comments to make.
This meeting is being recorded as part of the formal rulemaking process, and a transcript will be prepared and submitted as part of the final rulemaking package, so it will be accessible to anyone who wishes to review it later on. And in addition, this public hearing ‑- the purpose of it is to receive comments. It is not a forum to discuss the rulemaking or to ask questions of the Department for immediate response during this proceeding. It is to record the public comments, either in support, opposition, or just generally about the pending regulation; any suggestions or corrections that you feel may need to be made. So please tailor your comments accordingly to that.
The Department, as part of the final rulemaking package, is required to and will respond to the comments made today and those received in writing. The comment period concludes at noon on December 9th, 2020. So written comments can be submitted prior to that time, in addition to any comments that are made today.
If you have already submitted written comments, there is no need to restate your comments in this public hearing today. If you wish to add to them or comment on different matters, then please feel free to do so, but if you have already submitted written comments, they will be considered and responded to in accordance with the requirements of the rulemaking process.
And as indicated on the slide, you can see that written comments may be submitted via email to the email address rpu ‑- as in Regulation and Policy Unit ‑- @abc.ca.gov, or you can mail them to the Department at our headquarters address, 3927 Lennane Drive, Sacramento 95834.
So without further ado, we will commence with the hearing. And let me just check with my associates as to if there’s anything else we need to add.
Robert, do we ‑- is there anything else we should discuss at this point?
MR. DE RUYTER: I’m putting a link to the regulations package, just so people can see it.
MR. BOTTING: Okay. Robert De Ruyter just indicated that he is putting a link in the chat box to the regulation package, so if anyone wishes to review it during the course of this, you may do so. It is available on the Department’s website, as you will see, and along with all the written comments that have been received to date on this rulemaking package. You’ll notice that items have been updated through the course of the rulemaking proceedings, and will continue to be do ‑- will continue to be done as the Department continues to proceed with this.
Just for reference, as well, Administrative Emergency Decisions ‑- an emergency regulation was approved by the Office of Administrative Law earlier this year, in June, and that has been in effect since that time. This is the certificate of compliance process, which is the full rulemaking procedure. The Administrative Emergency Decision regulation under consideration today is broader than the emergency regulation that was approved and encompasses more bases for Administrative Emergency Decisions, so ‑-
MR. DE RUYTER: I just put a link up.
MR. BOTTING: And Robert just advised me he put a link to all of that in the chat box.
So with that, Sarah, do we have our first commenter?
MS. EASTER: Let’s go ahead and try this.
MR. BOTTING: Okay. We’re just working through some technical difficulties. It appears Gina Bosio is our first commenter, but it’s showing that you are muted. Are you able to unmute yourself?
Perhaps we could come back to her, and try someone else.
MS. EASTER: Nobody else.
MR. BOTTING: Nobody else wants to comment?
While we are just waiting at this point, also this public hearing is scheduled to go from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. this afternoon. Obviously, we’re not expecting people to comment for the duration, but we do have to make ourselves available for any comments that are made, so it’s up to you if you want to stick around when the ‑- when there are no comments, but the hearing will be available for comments during that period of time.
Gina Bosio, I don’t know if you are able to hear, but you are registered to make a comment, but we are showing you as muted. Perhaps you could send a chat to indicate if you are available, or are having some issues on your end.
If anyone else would like to comment at this point, please raise your hand, and Sarah can connect you.
MS. SHIMATSU: Hello. My name’s Jeanne Shimatsu. I would like to go ahead and start with the comments, and thank you for the opportunity for letting us share.
Oh, I’m sorry; let me turn my video on.
Good morning. My name is Jeanne Shimatsu. I am the prevention coordinator from The Asian‑American Drug Abuse Program, or ADAP, located in Los Angeles County, where we provide treatment through prevention services. I am also a member of several community coalitions that address alcohol and other drug prevention. This included the South Bay Communities Creating Change, or SBC3, and the ‑- and the California Alcohol Policy Alliance, or CAPA.
I am in support of the Administrative Emergency Decisions Regulatory Action to suspend liquor licenses immediately that are willfully remaining open past curfew, with indoor service, overcapacity, and without proper ‑- without proper public safety precautions. Because in the communities we serve, alcohol availability and access is an ongoing issue effecting our low‑income families, particularly that of our youth of color. Closing this loophole with this regulatory action will protect the public health, safety, and welfare without waiting for a lengthy litigation process. This regulatory action will provide clarity to low ‑- to law enforcement officers, the ABC licensees, and public ‑- and the public of the regulatory procedure to implement Administrative Emergency Decisions to stop bad actors.
In addition, we demand ABC take public health and safety precautions and regulate third‑party delivery. Your own investigations have shown that over ‑- there’s a over seventy percent failure of compliance of third‑party delivery. Under COVID conditions, youth are able to access alcohol, and this has increased as a serious problem with subsequent health dangers of underage alcohol use.
We have witnessed food deliveries that include alcohol simply dropped off at the doorstep, without any interaction with the customer, and this clearly shows a failure to properly check for IDs that comply with legal age limit.
This problem with third‑party alcohol delivery ‑- excuse me ‑- and youth access is pervasive. ABC must hold ‑- excuse me ‑- ABC must hold the delivery app businesses accountable during this time of weakened alcohol laws. There needs to be policy‑driven protocol used by all delivery apps that formalizes a Responsible Beverage Service training for third‑party delivery providers and a system that verifies the legal age upon delivery; upon delivery of alcohol drinks and products, particular to the ‑- particularly to the home. Actions to prevent third‑party delivery alcohol access and use by our youth must be made a priority.
We are in a global pandemic, and while supporting economic is ‑- interest is a part of our society, handling of alcohol sales in all capacities needs to be held in the same standard of regulation. Businesses cannot be saved at the expense of innocent lives, especially by that of our youth.
So that’s my comment, and I thank you for that opportunity.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Ms. Shimatsu. Greatly appreciate your input and comments. Thank you for your time.
I would just like to remind everyone, however, that the purpose of this public hearing is the Administrative Emergency Decision, and encourage comments to be confined to that. The Department is not considering other actions at this time.
So thank you. I greatly appreciate your comments.
Do we have another commenter, Sarah?
Okay. No one is on deck at this point, so if anyone would like to make a comment, please feel free to raise your hand, and we can dial you into the ‑- or unmute you.
MR. BOTTING: Okay. It appears Ryan Friesen is seeking to make a comment, so ‑-
MR. FRIESEN: Yes, sir.
MR. BOTTING: So Ryan, the floor is yours. Thank you very much.
MR. FRIESEN: Good morning, Mr. Botting and others. My name is Ryan Friesen. I’m with the California Artisanal Distillers Guild. Simply just wanted to say thank you for taking public comment today. We don’t have an official comment to make; just wanted to say thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Mr. Friesen. Appreciate that.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Zoom at all ‑- like I was until yesterday, and I’m still learning as I go along ‑- the raise your hand button is ‑- if you click on the ‑- at the bottom of the screen, for most people, at least on the computer, it’s the “participants” button will open the list of everyone who is currently participating. And then, at the bottom of that, there is a button for “Raise Hand”, and that is how we will identify you for purposes of comment. So thank you very much.
I see Gilbert Mora has raised his hand.
Was there anyone before him, Sarah? No?
Mr. Mora, the floor is yours. Thank you.
MR. MORA: Good morning. Thank you for having this forum/whatever you ‑- comment period.
My name is Gilbert Mora. I am the cochair of the California Alcohol Policy Alliance and also the prevention coordinator for Behavioral Health Services in Hollywood.
I am in support of Administrative Emergency Decisions Regulatory Action to suspend liquor license immediately that will willfully open past curfew, with indoor service, overcapacity, and without proper public safety precautions because, as previously stated, I work in Hollywood; known for its nightlife and high density of alcohol retailers. And as you may know, we have bad actors as alcohol retailers, who abuse the privilege of the license given them.
Much of our law enforcement and emergency services resources go to mitigating these issues of such high density of establishments, at the expense of the rest of the community. In order to hold these bad actors to account, it takes a process of at least three years and much litigation. Revoking a license is much harder than acquiring one in Los Angeles, and currently ‑- sorry.
Current ‑- current law has a large loophole that allows ABC licensees to continue to cause immediate danger by continuing ‑- allowing them to continue to operate.
Hold on. I’m starting ‑- this is starting to ‑- okay, here we go; sorry about that.
And they ‑- they ‑- they continue to put the public health, safety, and welfare at risk. Especially in the middle of a global pandemic, where the lives are on the line, licensees must be held accountable for compromising quality of the communities they reside in.
Being essential is a privilege, not a right. ABC has the administrative power to regulate the bad operators and hold them accountable when they violate the agreements of the license and should be more proactive in their use of this power. ABC’s mission is not to prote ‑- is to protect the public health, safety, and welfare through licensing alcohol businesses and forcing legislative standards. It’s not to promote alcohol and make alcohol a viable business.
In addition, I would like to ask ABC to take a public safety and health precaution and regulate third‑party delivery. This is a very important issue, and there’s a lack of oversight of third‑party delivery.
ABC has conducted many sting operations that have shown that seventy percent failure rate of compliance of third‑party delivery. Youth are being compromised at the expense of the lack of the regulation and oversight. There is no formal or streamlines around the Responsible Beverage Service training for third‑party delivery providers, and this loophole in the regulation is likely to lead to higher rates of contracting COVID.
This lack of reg ‑- regulation cause ‑- creates more hazards for social distancing compliance issues, with stricter at‑home order delivery is deemed as an essential service, but is not regulated. This lack of regulation is further compromising youth and families of color, who lack the information to comply appropriately. This is likely to lead to enforcement that negatively impacts low income communities of color ‑- black/brown folks already suffering from over policing ‑- higher rates of COVID, unemployment, and overall for their compromised quality of life.
ABC needs to take an equity‑based approach and consider how those most impacted by sting operations for lack of compliance are the ‑- the least informed and already have police, as opposed to creating regulations to address the lack of procedure.
We are in a global pandemic. And while supporting economic interest is a part of our society, all handling alcohol sales in all capacities need to be held to the same standard of regulations. Business just can’t be saved at the expense of innocent lives. People are more important than profit during a pandemic, and we would like ABC to be a little more proactive in its regulation of alcohol licenses, and not just leave it up to local municipalities to do so.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Mr. Mora; appreciate your comments.
All right. Next up, it appears Richard Bis ‑- I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly; I apologize if I’m not. But Mr. ‑-
MR. BIS: Yes, you are. Thank you, sir.
So good morning, everyone, and also thank you to all of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control officials, members, and workers that are here right now to listen to all of us.
My name is Richard Bis, and I am a member of the Carson Initiative for Substance Abuse Awareness and Prevention, CISAAP Prevention Community Coalition.
I am in support of the Administrative Emergency Decision Regulatory Action to suspend any liquor ‑- liquor store licenses immediately who are not doing their jobs correctly. There’s a lot of regulations, and it’s set. I think all liquor stores or alcoholic beverage should do what’s the regulation and what are ‑- the rules are, especially now.
Now, this is very important in the City of Carson because of this, okay? We have done three years of alcohol off sale store environmental scan, store merchant assessment surveys, and merchant committed programs. We simply found out we had stores with merchants and staff who did not have or get the RBS training or the LEAD training. Now, we’re talking about third‑party deliveries who did not get these training. So we’re looking at the current stores and third‑party deliverers without any training whatsoever that are selling out to the youth, getting this alcohol to the youth. It’s a major issue in Carson.
You know, we have dealt with many alcohol regulations, but when it comes to off sale outlet liquor stores, department stores, it’s a major issue. So I’m totally in support of anything to remove their licenses, or something to regulate their licenses. And I think, also, that it makes total sense. All alcoholic beverages need ‑- are in regulation and need training. Why are all of these deliverers not being trained? That doesn’t make any sense to me at all, okay?
So they need to get their training. Not just because of access, but public safety, public safety and health. Now that there’s COVID‑19, the pandemic, right, do they know what they’re doing? Are they doing it properly? On top of that, when it comes to public safety, where are they delivering it and how are they delivering it, you know what I mean? So these are all major questions that ABC should really think about and should really, you know, enforce some kind of regulations on the third‑party delivery.
So for fourteen years, our coalitions work for prevention on alcohol access and availability to the youth, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism, when it comes to public health prevention and public safety. You know, drunk driving, impaired driving; that’s all connected to this issue, sir.
So I really hope that, you know, we take the proper procedure to get all of these regulations and all of this emergency stuff acted, especially now, were it not in decline, when it comes to the pandemic. You know, we don’t need more alcohol out there, especially for the youth.
So that’s my comment. Thank you. Again, my name’s Richard Bis, from ADAP and also the Carson CISAAP Community Prevention Coalition. Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you very much, Mr. Bis; appreciate your comments.
We have a hand up from Monica Martin.
Ms. Martin, the floor is yours for comment. Thank you.
MS. MARTIN: Can you hear me?
MR. BOTTING: Yes, we can hear you. Thank you.
MS. MARTIN: Oh, okay. I’ll start over.
Hi, my name is Monica Martin and I’m with FLB Entertainment Center. I want to thank you for having licensee’s opinions heard today. I think that it’s great that the Department has committed ‑- okay. I think it is great that the Department has committed to continue to work with the licensees, but we have some concerns about the proposed regulations.
In section two, at the end, it states a law enforcement problem. The definition given is vague. We would like to know what is considered devoting more resources to the licensed premises as well as what is considered the average alcoholic beverage license; is it five more visits than the average? Is it ten more visits? Does this take into account the occupancy of the licensee’s premises? It seems as if businesses who can accommodate more of the public and are destination ‑-destination businesses will, in turn, have the potential for more calls. Are liquor stores where people go in to buy something and leave viewed as equal to business that can have hundreds of customers spending longer periods of time at their location?
In section six, the Governor has been proven guilty of implementing orders that are out of his constitutional right. To change the regulations, to give to ABC the authority, without due process, to suspend a license based on a licensee that acts in a manner in conflict with an order at this time seems unconstitutional. Constitutionally speaking, due process should be mandatory in regards to a mandate, before suspending or revoking a licensee.
Our license should not be threatened due to a governor’s order that may not even be legal. We request that this section be removed from the proposed regulations. We believe that the ABC needs to show the threat of increased cases is directly coming from restaurants, bars, or licensees, and furthermore, that these added regulations would reduce these alleged cases.
We believe that the current governor’s order is a violation of our constitutional rights, and it would be unlawful for the ABC to implement stricter regulations with penalties tied to them without due process. The governor’s order is based on us being a ‑- in a state of emergency, and the fact of whether we are in a state of emergency is still undecided and in the hands of the court.
The Governor has gone overboard with his tears, with no end in place for this pandemic. The Governor has already been struck down by a judge for his overreach of power, so we hope that you take these recommendations seriously, for the sake of our small businesses. We have already lost so many businesses, and we’ll ‑- we feel that these regulations have potential to shut down so many more businesses without due process. Thank you for the time.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Ms. Martin, for your comments. Greatly appreciate your time.
I see no hands raised for additional comments right now. Again, the hand may be raised to be added or to submit your comments by clicking on the “Raise Hand” link, under the “participants” button.
I see Gilbert Mora has raised his hand.
So Mr. Mora, the floor is yours.
MR. MORA: Yes, I appreciate the comments from the alcohol industry advocates, and I just want to say one thing. Alcohol is being deemed an essential ‑- whatever, business. And you know, that seems a little odd, considering that we ‑- we do have a lot of public health/mental health issues related or tied to alcohol use and abuse.
To save small businesses, they don’t need to be open. What we need to do is prop up these businesses through economic means. You know, giving them money so that they can maintain their business, rather than having them open and then endanger lives.
So you know, the fact that these small businesses are dying is not because of what the Governor has ordered. What he is ordering is basically, you know, let’s stay safe. Let’s ‑- you know, keep the proper distances, let’s keep the public health in mind, and not encourage people to, you know, not social distance, not use the ‑- their masks, not use ‑- you know, proper etiquette when it comes to spreading this deadly disease. So to say that they need to be open is ‑- is not conducive to what we’re trying to do.
And to say that we don’t know this is an emergency, it’s plain to see. You see the people dying. You see the statistics overall. And we can trace it back to public gatherings, and what better place to publicly gather than a place that serves alcohol.
So to say those kind of things is kind of disingenuous, I think. If they really want to be staying open, we need more support for small businesses, not just alcohol establishments and bars, as far as economic support. We need to kick ‑- sorry, I was just about to use a ‑- a profanity. We need to “make” our lawmakers do what they’re supposed to do and authorize those stimuluses that kept us going through the first couple of months of this pandemic, to ensure that we can actually survive this pandemic.
And to put it on alcohol ‑- being ‑- having to serve alcohol is ‑- is just a ‑- just a ‑- just disingenuous to me. I think that we need to get the lawmakers to actually pony up the money. I mean, if they can pony up the money for weird stuff, like tax breaks and things like that, you could pony up the money to help support these small businesses that need to survive during these times, these lean times. Make sure that these people can, you know, support their staff, keep them employed, and ‑- and pay them ‑- and what they need to survive, and just, you know, in general make it easier for small businesses to weather this storm, rather than allowing them to operate in a manner that may hurt the public health and public safety by exposing people to a deadly virus.
That’s it. Sorry.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Mr. Mora. Appreciate that, those comments.
I would just like, again, to remind everyone that we are here to talk about the emergency ‑- administrative emergency regulation. We understand these are very unusual and difficult times and that there are very strong opinions about, you know, the handling of pandemic response by politicians at the state and federal levels, but this is not a forum to debate those issues. So I would ask that comments be confined to the emergency decision, proposed regulation. Thank you very much.
I see that John Hinman has a hand raised.
Mr. Hinman, the floor is yours for comment. Thank you.
MR. HINMAN: Can you hear me?
MR. BOTTING: Yes, we can hear you. Thanks.
MR. HINMAN: Thank you, Mr. Botting. We appreciate the Department holding a public hearing on this particular permanent emergency regulation proposal.
First off, I would like to point out that the right to appeal is not a loophole. It’s a fundamental, constitutional right. And to characterize the right to appeal as being a loophole is ‑- is basically improper and ‑- so the entire predicate to the permanent emergency regulation is unnecessary.
Second, this is a due process issue. The permanent emergency regulation has punishment first and then the potential right to appeal later. That turns the system on its head, our system of constitutional laws.
Third, the ABC has the power right now to apply for an injunction with the superior court, at which the licensee may defend itself and appeal, if necessary, from an injunction that’s issued by a superior court, upon the ‑- upon the production of evidence by the Department that the injunction is warranted.
The injunction would be for all the various things that are put forth in the emergency regulation. If a ‑- if a licensee is acting improperly, if he’s acting beyond the scope of his license, if he’s creating a law enforcement problem that can’t be remedied any other way, the superior court remedy is available right now. You don’t need the permit emergency regulation.
And that superior court remedy is constitutional because of ‑- it would ‑- puts the burden of proof on the Department in the first instance to get the injunction, and provides the licensee with the right to defend, and that’s what we’re talking about here.
The permanent emergency regulation proposal also creates the opportunity for mischief. And unfair and prejudicial treatment by neighbors, for example, of production facilities or night clubs or bars or restaurants or any licensed facility at all, if there’s a neighbor that’s angry, they can go to the Department and claim that there’s all these problems there that can’t be resolved. And the Department could simply suspend the license right now, before there’s a hearing, an investigation, or a report. This empowers those with an agenda against licensees.
And it’s quite clear that there’s many areas in this state where there is a lot of neighbor issues, between premises. Whether it’s a bar, an entertainment venue ‑- like we heard from a few minutes ago ‑- whether it’s a winery having ‑- having weddings, whether it’s a distillery hosting social events. This is ‑- this is a common issue among the ‑- the thousands of licensees in the state of California, and ‑- and having the right to shut them down before evidence is presented, at which they can defend themselves, with the burden of proof on the accuser, is simply improper.
This is not related to a need that the Department currently has. Department of Emergency Regulations ‑- the Department has the power right now, under the temporary emergency regulations, to deal with COVID‑related issues. This is not a COVID‑related situation. This is permanent. And we would argue that this regulation is not necessary, it’s unconstitutional, and if the Department passes it, it’s going to create a ton of litigation that the Department’s going to have a very difficult time dealing with. Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Mr. Hinman. Appreciate your comments, and thank you for your time. It’s good to see you again.
Okay. Seeing no hands up for comment right now. Again, if anyone does wish to make a comment in this public hearing, please click the “Raise Hand” button, and we will call upon you.
Not seeing anyone at this time. It is currently 10:39.
Oh, I stand corrected. Mr. Mora has raised his hand and has a comment.
So Mr. Mora, the floor is yours. One second, Mr. Mora. You are ‑- you are muted.
MR. MORA: Is that better?
MR. BOTTING: There we go, yes, thank you.
MR. MORA: Yes, I understand due process. I understand that, you know, everybody should have their day in court and be able to defend themselves. But when due process is dragged out over years and the alcohol industry has all the resources to fight this, but the communities that are being negatively affected don’t have those rights, of course we’re going to try to say, hey, let’s bring this back into balance. Where it’s, like, we know these people are bad actors. We know they’ve been doing bad things for a while. We do have the stuff. Why should we let them continue to do business when we know they’ve ‑- they ‑- they’ve been doing bad business for a long time?
So you know, this ‑- this whole idea that, you know, you’re not getting your due process and that the community is going to destroy all these ‑- these businesses, we are oversaturated with alcohol businesses as it is. We have more businesses than needed, and with the resources we have now for law enforcement and emergency services, they’re put ‑- stretched to their limits to try to mitigate all these issues that happen with these businesses.
So okay. So if a few businesses fall out of the way and they’re not able to ‑- to operate in a ‑- a meaningful and good faith manner, so be it. But to ‑- to say that it’s going to destroy the alcohol economy and all these businesses are going to ‑- no. They’re ‑- no sooner does one leave, ten more come up to replace them.
So it’s not an issue of due proc ‑- it’s an issue of due process, yes. But we’re trying to tip the balance back in the ‑- the community public health favor so that we can actually have a voice and be able to say when we feel this bad actor is really negatively affecting our community because right now, we don’t. No matter how hard we try.
And you know what? We got lives. We have to be going to work, taking care of our children, doing whatever we do. We don’t have time to go to all these damn ‑- excuse my language ‑- hearings and whatever. And when you can ‑- when the alcohol industry can send a lobbyist, who gets paid fulltime to do that, and he can be there whenever he wants, that’s unfair. We don’t have the ‑- the voice. Most of these alcohol regulations err on the side of the business, allowing them to continue working while the community continues to try to fight for their fair voice in this whole process.
And this is just one thing that will allow us to be a little more fair, in these sense that, hey, they did something really wrong. We’ve already got the evidence that they already did it. We’re going to shut them down for a while, then we’ll do the appeal and see if they can remedy it, and ‑- and you know, stop them from doing whatever is endangering the public safety, whatever’s endangering the public health at this moment.
You don’t tell someone, hey, I’m not going to ‑- you’re shooting up this place. I’m going to wait until you have your fair share in court and let you continue using your guns and shooting up places, until ‑- no. You take their guns away from them for a while, figure out the situation, then decide whether or not it’s fair.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Mora; appreciate your additional comments.
I see a hand up from Fred Jones.
Mr. Jones, the floor is yours for comment. Thank you.
MR. JONES: Hi, Matt.
Hello, everyone. Fred Jones, California Counsel on Alcohol Problems. First, we support the regulation pending today. I do believe it is replete with due process rights, including temporary suspensions, the right and requirement for an administrative hearing before a decision can be finally rendered.
If you look at the regulation and read it, it’s only a page. It appears that ABC is bending over backwards for the appellant, even allowing electronic hearing, evening hearing, and other means of setting times that is most convenient to the appellant. So I certainly believe there is ample due process rights to the licensee.
Furthermore, the reasons are specifically articulated for such a temporary suspension revocation in a way that the current regulation isn’t. So there is more specificity and clarity for the grounds for such suspensions of licenses. So in terms of both the substance of the regulation and the due process rights afforded the licensee appellant, I think it’s appropriate.
I will say ‑- I know it’s not related to today’s hearing, but all of this is limited to actions on site of the licensee. But as you’ve heard from others this morning, and I associate myself with those comments, we are concerned about offsite delivery of alcohol through third‑party deliverers, and some of the emergency regulations that were adopted authorizing those. And by the department’s own findings, you know, and we certainly know anecdotally, that there are huge problems with the delivery of alcohol to youth through those third-party deliverers. So we would strongly encourage ABC to also consider tightening up those emergency regulations to protect youth as well.
Thank you for your time.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Mr. Jones. Appreciate your time and comments, and good to see you, also, by video.
Not seeing any hands at this time. Again, if anyone wishes to make a comment in this public hearing, please click the raise your hand button.
Not seeing any comments at this point. It is currently 10:46. While the public hearing will remain open, just for purposes of the transcription and the record, we’ll go off the record until ‑- unless and until someone raises a hand for comment. So I am going to mute my ‑- my microphone and video, and we’ll reconvene if someone raises their hand. Thank you.
(Whereupon, a recess was held from 10:46 a.m. until 10:51 a.m.)
MR. BOTTING: All right. It is 10:51. Back on the record. We have a hand raised from Maurina Cintron.
Ms. Cintron, the floor is yours for comment. Thank you.
MS. CINTRON: Can you hear me?
MR. BOTTING: Yes, we can hear you. Thank you.
MS. CINTRON: Okay, great. Thank you.
Hello. My name is Maurina Cintron, and I’m a member of the California Alcohol Policy Alliance, also known as CAPA. I want to thank you for today’s hearing, and I wanted to voice my support for the Administrative Emergency Decisions Regulation Action to suspend the liquor license immediately that are unwilling to ‑- that are willfully, I apologize, willfully remaining open past curfew, with indoor service, overcapacity, and without probab ‑- proper public safety precautions because, in the middle of a global pandemic where lives are on the line, licensees must be held accountable for compromising quality of life further. In the same way that servers are held accountable for noncompliance, licensees must be held to the same standard of immediately (sic) accountability, especially during the time with an end ‑- with no sight ‑- no end in sight; I apologize.
ABC must close the loopholes with this regulatory action to protect the public health, safety, and welfare, without waiting for a lengthy legislative process. This is a public health measure that is not negotiable; not anymore. Opposing these regulatory actions is complicit of illegal operations, and those that feel threatened by any of these regulatory actions needs to consider the communities that they want to serve it. Protecting community is protecting their business. We ask that ABC stand by their mission to protect public health, safety, and welfare through enforcing legislative standards.
Again, I want to thank you. I believe this is a great beginning in addressing public health, safety, welfare; also protecting the licensees further. Even though the licensees may not see it that way now, as a public health provider I know, based on my experience, that when there are proper businesses, alcohol outlets, in communities, their communities thrive more, their businesses thrive more. For those ‑- the bad actors ‑- as other people have made comment, I’m using bad actors ‑- in the community, the communities face more negative impacts. Businesses end up closing because there are no one ‑- there ‑- there’s nobody in their community that will go to their business if they don’t feel safe.
In this time where small businesses are closing, it would ‑- it saddens me and still saddens me that alcohol was deemed essential in a global pandemic, such as we are living in, and yet alcohol businesses still see their overprivilege in stating that ‑- you know, what ABC is ‑- is standing up to the plate and really trying to put community first, and finally, is how I see it, a public ‑- you know, public health needs to always be number one if we want our communities to thrive, from businesses to everything else.
So again, thank you so much. My name is Maurina Cintron. I am a member of CAPA, and I bid you good day.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Ms. Cintron. Appreciate your comments and appreciate your time. In fact, appreciate everyone’s time for tuning into this Zoom public hearing and participating.
As we’ve seen, there may well be a lot of down time through the course of the day, since we are required to schedule this for the duration, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. So we will again be going on and off the record as hands appear for making comment. So it is up to each of you to decide whether or not you want to stick around for the duration, but we will be here.
So the time currently is 10:56. Seeing no hands raised presently ‑-
MR. DE RUYTER: Wait.
MR. BOTTING: Oh, excuse me.
MR. DE RUYTER: It looks like somebody did it in the chat. KC Branch.
MR. BOTTING: Oh. KC Branch has indicated in the chat that he is raising his hand. Again, to assist everyone not familiar with the use of Zoom, if you click on the “participants” tab, it will open the list of participants and there are various buttons that may be pressed or clicked on. “Raise Hand” is one of them, and that is how we will identify you, but you know, I’m glad we caught Mr. Branch on the chat box.
And I see your hand is now raised, Mr. Branch, so the floor is yours, please, for comment. Thank you.
MR. BRANCH: Good morning, Matt and the entire ABC and everybody else. Just wanted to say thank you for all your involvement during this pandemic, good, bad, or indifferent. Your time is appreciated, number one.
Number two, on this particular issue, I’m wondering whether anything in between the people who are very concerned about not shutting down bad actors for years and years, versus those who have ‑- those who wish that we have to give the Department all of its totalitarian power to shut you down, and you’re guilty until proven innocent. And is ‑- was there anything in between that was considered that wouldn’t be quite so dramatic and totalitarian that would allow for the Department to take care of the bad actors in a short ‑- in ‑- in a much shorter time, or things along those lines?
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Mr. Branch, for your comment. As ‑- as indicated in the slide and at the outset, we will not be responding directly to comments or questions during this public hearing, but the comment is part of the record and will be responded to in the final rulemaking package submitted to the Office of Administrative Laws.
A hand is raised by Jill Orr.
I hope I’m pronouncing that correct, Ms. Orr. The floor is yours. Thank you.
MS. ORR: Okay. Can you hear me? I have not done this before.
MR. BOTTING: Yes, we can hear you just fine, thank you.
MS. ORR: Okay, great. I am a fairly new owner of a restaurant and bar in Dixon, and it’s on the corner of the downtown, and we have been complying for the orders that were put out by the Governor, but I can say there is probably a lot of people that aren’t. And it does concern me because, you know, we are doing the very best we can, and it is really hurting our business. We are losing money, a couple thousand dollars a day, by what we’re, you know, having to, you know, do to keep our public safe. But yes, I would like to see something put into place.
So my concern is that if we don’t regulate things quickly that this is only going to become worse, and it’s going to keep us down longer because so many people are going to get sick. And it was a time where I didn’t know people that were close to me in my org that had it, and in the last two weeks, I cannot even imagine right now seeing how many people that I know personally who have it. And this is the first time in my area that I’ve seen it so bad, and I was born and raised in this town.
So I’m not quite sure what to do. I want my fellow people that have restaurants and bars to go ‑- please denote here, do what we need to do to get through this so we can all get better. And especially ‑- I know the vaccine’s going to be coming soon, and that is going to really, I think, help us all. But I do ‑- I am concerned because I live in a ‑- a town that has the highest COVID of all of the cities in our county, so that is a great concern to me right now.
But I ‑- it is concerning because it’s hard for us. We don’t have any money right now. We’re losing ‑- we do need, you know, some assistance, I know that’s not part of what we’re talking about now, but as somebody who’s a personal owner and has put everything I own into this business and a lot of hard work, I’m very proud of it, and it is ‑- this is something that I ‑- I could never have foreseen.
And you know, I have a hard liquor license and I certainly do not want to lose it. So just my opinion, that this is really starting to concern me, how many people I know that are getting sick. So I don’t know how else you can regulate it, but gatherings have happened, and you know, I guess we just need to do something about it. But yet, I don’t want to see more things piled upon us that we just don’t have time to do. We ‑- I think as owners that are small business owners, we employ probably about twenty people. We do ‑- or we’re doing so many things on our own to save money and costs that we never did before, but we have to because we don’t want to lose our investment.
But as an owner that is directly impacted by this discussion and this coming up emergency order ‑- I mean, I just happened to come across this today because I was trying to get a hold of ABC for another issue, and I had no idea about this meeting, so I just came on this by accident. I haven’t really had any time to read the codes or ‑- I’ve just been listening to the conversation. But yeah, I’m ‑- I’m somebody that’s really personally going to be impacted by this decision. So all I know is that I would like to get through this pandemic as quickly as possible, so we can get back to business.
Thank you very much for your time.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Ms. Orr; appreciate your comments and your input, and wish you all the best with your business during this difficult time; very challenging.
And also, since you did indicate you just stumbled across ‑- across us today, when you have had an opportunity to review the regulation, the rulemaking package, if you do have additional comments ‑- and this is also for everyone else on this Zoom public hearing ‑- if you do wish to submit written comments, they will be accepted by the Department until 12 noon on December 9th, 2020, so that’s next Wednesday. They may be emailed to the Department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or they can be snail mailed to the Department at 3927 Lennane Drive, Suite 100, Sacramento 95834.
However, if you do snail mail them, they must be received by the Department by noon on December 9th. So I thank you again for your comments.
I see, Ms. Orr, you’ve raised your hand again, so if you have additional comments, please feel free to make them.
MS. ORR: Yes, I just wanted to find out, how would I have found out about this, since I do have a liquor license in California? Was there a notice or anything I should look to be aware of in the future for future decisions that may be coming down the pike that might affect my business?
MR. BOTTING: Yes, thank you very much. I’m going to ask Mr. de Ruyter to respond to that; he can provide some information to you.
MR. DE RUYTER: Hello? Is that me that’s ringing? Okay.
I just wanted to let everyone know that the way to do this is to go to the abc.ca.gov website. If you go to that abc.ca.gov website, in the upper, righthand corner there’s a contact us and a subscribe button right next to each other.
Let’s see if that’s ‑- if that is me. I’m going to ‑- hold on one second.
MR. BOTTING: Yeah, sorry; we’re getting ‑- sorry. If no one else can hear it, we’re getting an alarm going off, so not sure exactly what’s going on.
But just to reiterate and conclude what Robert was just saying there is that on the Department’s website, which is www.abc.ca.gov, there is ‑- first of all, there is a link under the law and regulation ‑- the law and policy tab to pending rulemaking, so all of the information relative to this is available there. It’s also ‑- Robert put a link on the chat, in the chat box.
In addition, if you wish to receive information from ABC, there is, on the Department’s homepage, a subscribe button that can be pushed, and you can input your email address. And there are a variety of different topics available to select from, if you want specific information on ‑- you know, that the Department may push out, or you can subscribe to all of those options, and then the Department does push information out, using Mailchimp. In addition, information is available through ABC’s Twitter feed and Facebook page. So there are a variety of options, if you wish to receive information from the Department on an ongoing basis.
I see Ms. Orr has raised her hand again, so if you have additional comments, please feel free to make them. Thank you.
MS. ORR: That’s amazing. I just want to let you know, I ‑- I just signed up; I’m all good to go, and I appreciate that. I am going to stay on top of everything.
And I’m actually going to ‑- I’m on the Chamber board of directors in our community, and also I’m going to go to the City of Dixon and tell them we need to be on top of that, as our economic development director.
So thank you very much. I appreciate everything.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Ms. Orr. Appreciate your comments and appreciate your time and interest in this public hearing.
Not seeing any hands up at this moment. The time is 11:08. So for purposes of the continuity of the record, we will go off the record at this point, and I’m going to mute myself, audio and video, and we’ll come back on if anyone raises their hand for comment. Thank you.
(Whereupon, a recess was held from 11:08 a.m. until 11:18 a.m.)
MR. BOTTING: Okay. The time is 11:18, and we are back on the record in the public hearing on the Administrative Emergency Decision Pending Regulation. We have a raised hand from Heather Longridge.
Ms. Longridge, the floor is yours for public comment. Thank you.
MS. LONGRIDGE: Thank you, Mr. Botting.
Hello, everyone. Again, my name is Heather Longridge. I’m a teen drug and alcohol prevention provider in Los Angeles County. I work for Behavioral Health Services. I want to thank you for having this forum for us to share, and I want to thank everyone that has spoken before I got on here. I think there’s been a lot of great comments to consider from alcohol prevention providers and responsible alcohol retailers. So I back up statements that have been made about, you know, how to handle alcohol retailers that are not following through on the laws.
And I want to just say that ‑- I wanted to make comment in regard to Responsible ‑- Responsible Beverage Service training, and I want to thank you for putting the links in the chat box to review. And I was checking on AB 1221; that would be the law that requires Responsible Beverage Service trainings to persons and restaurants, bars, fast casual dining, tasting rooms, hotel, and stadiums to receive a Responsible Beverage Service training, I believe by ‑- it’s ‑- the date is July of 2022.
And so for the purposes of AB’s ‑- ABC’s response, with comments, as part of the package submitted to the Office of Administrative Law, I would ask them to consider how ‑- how we could close the gap on the issues with the third-party delivery services, which have had up to thirty‑five percent failure rates in checking IDs during delivery. I think I saw those numbers for August of 2020.
I think there’s a lot of the alcohol retailers that are acting responsibly. I think they, ABC, local law enforcement and prevention providers, many of us want to make sure that we’re all on the same page with public safety, and the risk ‑- and reduce the risk of deliveries to underage youth.
And finally, I would add ‑- of course, for the ‑- the many reasons of public safety, and I would also add that, as studies show, teens that consume alcohol are many times more likely to become addicted to the substance at some point during their lives, maybe well into their adult years. But it is a ‑- a risk for teens to consume alcohol, and I thank you for considering my comments today. Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Ms. Longridge. Appreciate your time and your comments.
A reminder. If anyone wishes to make a public comment relative to the Administrative Emergency Decision pending regulation, please raise your hand in the “participants” box in the Zoom meeting, and we can call upon you.
Not seeing any hands at this time, it is now 11:22, and we will go off the record at this time, so I will once again be muting my audio and video, but if anyone does wish to make a comment, please just click that “Raise Hand” button and we will open the record again. Thank you.
(Whereupon, a recess was held from 11:22 a.m. until 11:28 a.m.)
MR. DE RUYTER: All right. I apologize; had to step from the meeting for a moment, but we do have a raised hand, so we’ll be going on the record. It is now 11:28.
So I believe Mr. Livingston raised his hand, and the floor is yours.
MR. LIVINGSTON: You broke ‑-
MR. DE RUYTER: Bruce, are you there?
MR. LIVINGSTON: That’s me? Okay.
MR. DE RUYTER: Yes.
MR. LIVINGSTON: Can you hear me? Okay.
My name is Bruce Livingston. I’m the executive director of Alcohol Justice, the alcohol industry watchdog. I am in support of the regulations for emergency decision procedures for administrative actions against alcohol licenses. This regulation will allow ABC to suspend liquor licenses immediately that are willfully remaining open past curfew, with indoor service, overcapacity, or without proper public safety precautions. Especially in the middle of the global COVID‑19 pandemic, where lives are on the line, licensees must be held accountable for business practices that threaten health and safety.
ABC’s mission is to protect public health, safety, and welfare through licensing alcohol businesses and enforcing legislative standards. We vigorously applaud ABC taking this action. Alcohol sales are a privilege. Operating legally is not difficult. Licensees that consistently won’t follow the rules should, indeed, be shut down, and alcohol sales will continue at other establishments that do follow the law.
Let me speak to the question of due process. Section 147, parts (a) through (f), constitute numerous administrative procedures and processes. Section 147 part (c), in particular, requires an administrative hearing to determine if alleged violation ‑- if an alleged violation constitutes an immediate threat to health, safety, or welfare. Due process is embedded in this regulation and can withstand any threats of legal challenges that have already been made in testimony earlier this morning.
Additionally, I would maintain that third‑party delivery licensee ‑- licensing is directly re ‑- relevant to this emergency regulation. Numerous studies and news reports have shown a significant increase in third‑party delivery during the COVID‑19 pandemic. ABC’s own surveys consistently show that delivery persons are not conducting age card checks, nor are they trained to conduct card checks through Responsible Beverage Service trainings.
Third‑party delivery services should be licensed, and we believe that ABC has the authority to require such licenses. If third-party deliver is licensed, the delivery services could be subject to this Administrative Emergency Decision regulatory action. Section 147(b)(5) states the applicability. “Licensee or employee or agent of the licensee knowingly permits on a consistent basis, violations of law that constitute grounds for suspension or revocation of the license”. So that section states the applicability of third-party delivery, which is that the licensee is allowing ‑- that would be the onsite licensee ‑- is allowing the third‑party delivery service to violate the law because they know that that third‑party delivery service is not following the law.
It is patently clear that giving alcohol from a licensee to a delivery service on a premise constitutes an on‑premise activity. If that delivery service does not train its workers or require age checks at the door, that is an on‑premise violation, as the delivery service is the equivalent of a server who deliveries ‑- delivers alcohol actually on the site.
This would be better controlled if ABC actually licensed the third‑party delivery service and included that activity as part of this emergency order. But I would maintain that it’s ‑- the third‑party delivery applicability is already embedded in part 147(b)(5).
We are in a global pandemic. And while supporting economic interests is a part of our society, all handling of alcohol sales in all capacities need to be held to the same standard of regulation. Businesses cannot be saved at the expense of innocent lives. People are more important than profit during a pandemic.
I ask that you seriously consider all comments related to third‑party delivery as part of this hearing because of that section 147(b)(5).
Thank you for holding this. I appreciate the work that Bob de Ruyter is doing and Matthew Botting on this, and thank you for a very open, public process that is considering these regulations. My comments are complete.
MR. DE RUYTER: All right. Thank you for your comments, Mr. Livingston. Appreciate them and your time, as well as everybody else who has been sticking with us through this hearing.
Seeing no other hands, just want to remind anyone who is new or who has come into this meeting since we have started that in the “participants” button on the bottom of your screen, there are buttons at the bottom of the window that opens. The “Raise Hand” button is on the left hand side. If you would like to speak and share your comments with us here at ABC about the Administrative Emergency Decisions, please raise your hand and you will be given five minutes, and everyone can sign up for multiple five‑minute periods, as long as the public hearing is going forward. We will be here until 4 p.m.
Seeing no hands, we will go off the record. The time is now 11:35, and we will be off the record until we have someone who wishes to come in. Thank you.
(Whereupon, a recess was held from 11:35 a.m. until 11:58 a.m.)
MR. BOTTING: All right. The time is 11:58. We are back on the record. We have a hand up from Veronica De Lara.
Ms. De Lara, the floor is yours for comment. Thank you.
MS. DE LARA: Thank you. Can you hear me?
MR. BOTTING: Yes. We can hear you just fine, thank you.
MS. DE LARA: Great.
MR. BOTTING: Please go ahead.
MS. DE LARA: Hi, everyone. My name is Veronica De Lara. I am the cochair of the California Alcohol Policy Alliance. We’re an alliance that focuses on protecting the health and safety of our communities in the State of California, and we do that by addressing alcohol‑related harms. I want to thank ABC for creating this avenue, for people to speak and make their voices heard.
I am here in support of the Administrative Decision ‑- Emergency Decision regulatory action to suspend liquor licenses immediately that are not following proper guideline.
I would like to remind everyone that we are in a global pandemic, and this won’t end unless we start to take extreme measures to regulate businesses that are not following the law. ABC must close the loophole with this administrative regulatory action, in an effort to protect our public health in the State of California.
I will also add that we need to address the issue of the third‑party delivery licensing. As this is a relevant issue to the ‑- this emergency regulation. We have seen an increase of third‑party delivery during this global pandemic. These third‑party deliveries are not being regulated nor trained. ABC needs to regulate them by requiring them to have license. We need to protect our children, our parents, our families, and our communities. People’s lives are at risk. We need to address this public health crisis, and we will do that by holding alcohol licenses accountable.
And let’s not pretend that they aren’t bad operators and that they’re not contributing to the spread of the virus. Some alcohol businesses are allowing the gathering of people and are willfully remaining open past curfew hours, with indoor service, and allowing overcapacity, and not following proper public safety precautions. I’m hoping that we can put an end to this global pandemic and ABC can be instrumental on how we can accomplish that.
Thank you to ABC for providing this platform. Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Ms. De Lara, for your comments and your time to participate in this public hearing on the Administrative Emergency Decisions Pending Regulation.
Again, for anyone who may have just joined us, if you do wish to make a comment with respect to the pending regulation, on emergency ‑- Administrative Emergency Decisions, please go to the “participants” tab in the Zoom meeting and click on the “Raise Hand”. We will be going off the record and then on again when we see hands raises.
So at this time, seeing no hands, it is now 12:01, and we will go off the record again. And if anyone does wish to comment and raises their hand, we will return and come back on the record. So thank you very much. I will now be muting my audio and ‑- (audio ends midsentence)
(Whereupon, a recess was held from 12:01 p.m. until 12:11 p.m.)
MR. BOTTING: Hello, everybody. The time is 12:11. We’re back on the record in the public hearing on Administrative Emergency Decision. Apparently, through the chat function, Maribel Briseno has indicated that she wishes to speak.
So Ms. Briseno, the floor is yours. Thank you.
MS. BRISENO: All right. Thank you so much. Good afternoon, everyone.
Yes, my name is Maribel Briseno, and I am here today speaking ‑- wearing two hats. My first hat is one of ‑- as a prevention and community advocate here, in the Antelope Valley. And for those of you that don’t know where the Antelope Valley is, we are located in the service provider area one of Los Angeles County and Southern California.
My second hat is as a resident and a high propensity voter for the State of California, and specifically living in the city of Palmdale.
I am here to request that the Administrative Emergency Decision Regulatory Action be looked at as a public health measure that is not, I repeat, that is not negotiable, and that ABC closes the loophole with this regulatory action to protect the public health, safety, and welfare, without ‑- without waiting for a lengthy litigation process.
Also, I would like to request that the third‑party delivery be looked at and regulated because we cannot continue to lose lives in trying to save businesses. Again, as a high propensity voter and resident of the Southern California Palmdale city, I ask that all of today’s hearing’s comments and statements are taken into account as a serious account. A lot of us are very, very passionate in trying to work diligently with our community to make sure that, one, our businesses succeed, but also our public health is foremost and the ‑- and the lives that we can save are ‑- are most important to all of us.
I thank you for your time today, and that is my public statement. Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Ms. Briseno. I appreciate your ‑- sorry about that. I got accidentally muted, inadvertently.
Thank you, Ms. Briseno, for your time and effort in attending today’s Zoom public hearing. Again, while we’re still on the record, just a reminder to everyone that if you do wish to make a public comment relative to the pending regulation from Administrative Emergency Decisions, please raise your hand in the “participants” button, and we will return back onto the record to take your comment.
Additionally, if you do wish to submit a written comment, the comment period remains open until 12 noon, next Wednesday, December 9th, 2020. Written comments must be received by then. There’s an email address on your screens, email@example.com. That link is also in the documents on the Department’s website at abc.ca.gov, relative to this rulemaking package, and the Department will respond to all timely submitted comments, in addition to the verbal comments submitted today in this public hearing. The responses will be part of the final rulemaking package that will be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law at some point after December 9th. So thank you very much.
And again, if you wish to review any of the documents relative to this rulemaking package, they are available on the Department’s website at abc.ca.gov. Thank you very much. The time is now 12:16. Seeing no hands raised, we will again go off the record and I will mute my audio.
(Whereupon, a recess was held from 12:16 p.m. until 12:34 p.m.)
MR. BOTTING: Hello, again, everyone. The time is 12:20 ‑- I’m sorry, 12:34. We will go back on the record.
Oh, did I not start my video? I apologize. Okay, sorry.
The time is 12:34 p.m. We’re going back on the record for the public hearing in the emergency ‑- Administrative Emergency Decision pending regulation. We have a raised hand from Jaime Rich to make a public comment.
So Mr. (sic) Rich, the floor is yours. Thank you.
MS. RICH: Hello. I’m here representing Northern California, Bay Area, Pittsburg, Bay Point Community Coalition, and I would like to especially support regulation of third‑party deliveries.
Especially in my work with young people, which I work a lot, I have mentioned this issue to them in the many meetings, and whether you may think they would be all for, no, don’t regulate it so I can get, you know, booze, they’re not for that. They see it as really taking advantage of them, and they want to see more regulations put into place. They don’t like that it’s so easy for their fellow young people to access alcohol, and I expect that we will be hearing directly from some of these groups, too, because they are that empowered. So that is the main thing that I wanted to say. So thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Ms. Rich. And I apologize; I referred to you as Mr. Rich earlier, so I do apologize.
MS. RICH: It ‑-
MR. BOTTING: It was before the video showed up.
MS. RICH: ‑- it’s ‑- it’s happened to me ‑- it’s happened to me in my life quite a few times, so don’t worry about it.
MR. BOTTING: So thank you for your comment. Greatly appreciated, and appreciate your time and participating in this public hearing.
And just a reminder to anyone who has recently logged onto this public hearing, again, it is to take comments regarding the pending regulation on Administrative Emergency Decisions. The comment period is open until 12 noon, next Wednesday, December 9th, 2020, and written comments can be submitted until that time. They cannot be considered if they are received after that time. So if you do wish to submit written comments, as opposed to making a public comment on this Zoom hearing, then feel free to do so.
And with that being said, if you do wish to make a comment here, please click the “Raise Hand” button under the “participants” tab on your Zoom screen, and we will take your public comment.
Seeing no hands currently, the time is now 12:37, we will again go off the record and I will mute my audio and stop my video until such a time as we see a raised hand, if any. So thank you very much.
(Whereupon, a recess was held from 12:37 p.m. until 12:40 p.m.)
MR. BOTTING: The time is 12:40 and we are back on the record in the public hearing for Administrative Emergency Decision regulation. A hand is being raised by Charles Porter.
Mr. Porter, the floor is yours for public comment.
MR. PORTER: Thank you. Charles Porter. I work in Los Angeles, California with United Coalition Youth Prevention Program ‑- Prevention Project (ph.). It’s a program of social model recovery systems. And we work in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. And I’m speaking on behalf of our concerned coalition members and also in solidarity with the prevention advocates.
I’m speaking on the record to express support for Administrative Emergency Decisions Regulatory Action to suspend licenses that are in violation of existing rules and remain open past curfew, allow indoor service, that are overcapacity, or don’t have the proper public safety precautions.
We have many concerns in our neighborhood. Skid Row is a ‑- historically known as a ‑- a community of recovery as well. Not just people suffering with ‑- with addiction, mental illness, the ills of poverty, and other social determinants of health, but we also have great concerns during the current pandemic about the increased drinking rates across the board, you know, in all communities. And we also have strong concerns about the need to regulate third‑party delivery, and how on‑site locations are able to sell offsite.
We already struggle in Skid Row, trying to have a diversity of land use that is not focused on alcohol‑driven entertainment, gentrification. There’s existing population of low‑income individuals that need the amenities that many neighborhoods don’t have. And what we’ve seen downtown, is a lot of the uses are alcohol‑focused and driven.
And in the past, the onsite locations, such as restaurants, have been viewed as benign uses because people ‑- you know, they feel where there’s food being served and they’re not taking alcohol to go, it’s not being delivered, but all that has changed now, with ‑- with onsite locations being able to sell offsite, and that has really thwarted a lot of community efforts to really try to address public health issues through local zoning; this has really throwing a monkey wrench in that process.
And we have strong concerns because there has been ‑- there have been documented increased drinking rates, and we know that alcohol is ‑- is a threat to public health and wellness, and ‑- and it can only exacerbate the current health crisis we’re dealing with now. So I just want to put that on the record that we are concerned about that, particularly with no end in sight. So we struggle with local regulations and they’re trying to make it easier for restaurants to open and sell alcohol, but the ‑- their vision is it will only be onsite, but currently, all restaurants can sell offsite. And so that ‑- that creates a huge problem on the local level.
So if ‑- if there can be some kind of clear sunset period, if there can be some kind of temporary suspension of ‑- of license being issued until there is a ‑- a really equitable system created because we don’t know if these restaurants are ‑- are legit restaurants now, you know, because of the demand for alcohol. They could be selling mostly alcohol. We have no way to ‑- to ‑- to monitor that, and we ‑- and the third-party delivery folks, we’ve heard concerns that ‑- them not checking for ID, and not really having a regulatory process to monitor any of this, and so I ‑- I ask that you take these things into consideration, and again, we’re in support of the Administrative Emergency Decisions Regulatory Action, and also expressing concerns about the need to regulate third‑party delivery. Let me check my notes to make sure I covered everything.
And just to highlight that, in regards to the overconcentration of alcohol licenses in ‑- in our ‑- in our community, many of ‑- of what we’re struggling now is that many of the ‑- the census tracks are hundreds of times in excess of what ABC has ‑- has given as guidelines. And so that is a ‑- that is a whole other problematic challenge that we face, is that there ‑- there are existing guidelines that are being completely ignored. And as I mentioned now, we have additional threats of, just, availability being a priority and access to alcohol being a priority, and we don’t feel that that supports community health and wellness.
So as much as possible, if you could support in helping communities and community advocates to have more protections, to hold stores accountable, but also to have protections to limit access, particularly by ‑- by minors, and to prevent overconsumption of alcohol. Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you very much, Mr. Porter. Your ‑- your time and making comments in this public hearing are greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.
See a raised hand from Albert Melena. I hope I didn’t butcher that name too badly.
MR. MELENA: No, no. Actually perfect.
MR. BOTTING: Mr. Melena, the floor is yours. Thank you.
MR. MELENA: Good afternoon. My name is Albert Melena. I’m the executive director of the San Fernando Valley Partnership in San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County. I am also here in solidarity with our prevention partners and other community members who support the Administrative Emergency Decision action.
Specifically with offsite sales and the delivery, we really are seeing a dramatic increase in ‑- in incidents with young people. We are actually having people desperately physically coming to our office with their young people, who they’re just not ‑- they’re not understanding how kids are getting their hands on alcohol.
And I think during this whole COVID situation, we all support businesses and ‑- and really keeping them afloat. Unfortunately, the alcohol sales are unregulated alcohol sales, or a lack of oversight; really is impacting public health, public safety, in creating this unimaginable circumstances for parents, but we are ‑- are witnessing the impact of these sales, and with little oversight or regulation, this problem is only going to continue to get worse. With young people confined and stressed and all of the problems that are coming with this whole COVID, alcohol is really adding fuel to that fire.
So we strongly support ‑- and again, I’m here in solidarity with our prevention community to support the Administrative Emergency Decision, so thank you so much.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Mr. Melena, for your time and comments. Greatly appreciated, and do appreciate everyone’s participation in this public hearing.
Once again, I know you’re probably going to get sick of me, you know, repeating this, but for anyone new, just joining us, you are participating in the public hearing on the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s pending regulation for an Administrative Emergency Decisions. If you do wish to make a comment relative to that pending regulation, please click the “Raise Hand” button, which is under the “participants” tab in your Zoom homepage, and we will call upon you.
If you wish to submit written comments, you may do so via email, to the email address that you should be seeing on your screen, which is firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can mail them in. If you do mail them in, they must be received by noon, next Wednesday, December 9th, 2020, so plan accordingly. Similarly, if you do submit by email, they have to be received by that time as well. That is when the public comment period closes on this pending regulation.
And all comments, both written and verbal, made today, will be responded to by the Department as part of the rulemaking package that will be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law.
And with that, seeing no hands raised at this time, it is now 12:50 p.m. This public hearing will remain open until 4 p.m. today, and but at this time, we will just go off the record and I will be muting my audio and ‑- I muted it too soon. I didn’t say thank you after I muted it.
(Whereupon, a recess was held from 12:50 p.m. until 12:56 p.m.)
MR. BOTTING: All right. The time is 12:56 p.m. We are back on the record for the public hearing and Administrative Emergency Decision. We have a raise had from Friedner Wittman.
Mr. Wittman, the floor is yours, and it’s very good to see you.
MR. WITTMAN: (Audio interference) ‑-
MR. BOTTING: Sorry to interrupt, Fried (ph.). Fried, I’m sorry; there appears to be some problem with the audio on your end. It sounds like you’ve been sucking on a helium balloon. We can’t actually make out what you’re saying.
No, we cannot ‑- cannot hear you; I’m sorry.
MR. WITTMAN: (Audio interference)?
MR. BOTTING: No, it’s ‑- unfortunately, it sounds like Alvin & the Chipmunks.
MR. WITTMAN: (Audio interference) ‑-
MR. BOTTING: No, I cannot hear you or understand you at all, and none of us here can, so I’m thinking it may be the audio on your end. I can see your lips moving, but I cannot hear you.
MR. WITTMAN: (Audio interference).
MR. BOTTING: No, I’m sorry; it’s completely garbled, Mr. Wittman. Sounds like you may have some audio issues with your mic. If you’re not able to, you know, get some other microphone to participate, please feel free to submit your comments in writing. They will be considered.
Oh, actually in the ‑- I’m sorry, hold on a second.
Is it in the invitation? Okay.
In the Zoom call invitation there is a ‑- you know, there are some phone numbers where you can call in and speak on the phone to participate. That may be a better option at this point. Just turn your microphone off when you do that for your ‑- and you will still be seen on video.
If you’re having difficulty finding the phone number, wave and we will put a number in the chat box for you.
Okay. Give me just a moment. They will put a number in the chat box.
Okay. A phone number is being put into the chat box right now, so take a look at that in just a moment and call in and ‑- fingers crossed ‑- that will resolve this issue.
MR. BOTTING: All right. We did put a phone number in the chat box for everyone. Mr. Wittman has advised us via chat that he’s having issues and will submit his comments in writing, so ‑-
Is someone there? Okay. I’m sorry.
Yeah, so at this time, seeing no other hands raised, we will go off the record again. It is 1:02 p.m.
MR. WITTMAN: (Audio interference).
MR. BOTTING: Yeah. It sounded like, Mr. Wittman, you were trying to speak again, but we were having the same problem, with garbled audio. So if you do get that remedied, or if you want to try calling in using the 888 number, please raise your hand again and we will come back on the record, but at this time we’ll just ‑- we’ll go off the record at 1:03 p.m. Thank you.
(Whereupon, a recess was held from 1:03 p.m. until 1:05 p.m.)
MR. BOTTING: All right. The time is 1:05. We’re going back on the record. Mr. Wittman has called in to make the comments.
Fried, if you could do me a favor ‑- or actually, I think we can do it ‑- mute the computer, so ‑- because I was ‑- yep, there we go.
MR. WITTMAN: Yes ‑-
MR. BOTTING: All right. Mr. Wittman ‑-
MR. WITTMAN: ‑- that is correct.
BOTTING: ‑- the floor is yours thank you very much for calling in ‑-
MR. WITTMAN: All right.
MR. BOTTING: ‑- and commenting.
MR. WITTMAN: And thank you for accommodating me.
I want to speak in support of the regulations. As a researcher and as a community planner working with local control, with the use of local planning and zoning regulations to manage retail alcohol outlets. In supporting the emergency regulations, I want to ask that the ABC look very carefully in its regulations at recognizing ac ‑- actions by local jurisdictions to take actions against problematic outlets in violation of their local use permits and local codes, and develop a way that the state ABC can suspend licenses on an emergency basis when there are repeated examples of violations ‑- with good evidence by complaints and by police statements and so on ‑- that the operator is ‑- is ‑- is not following the ABC regulations, so that the cities will be able to step in and take action appropriately and get the attention of their operators.
Regarding third‑party regulations, I ‑- I think it’s very important that however these regulations are written, the maintain very strict levels of oversight that the ABC is famous for, in ensuring that the transaction of sales, of the retail sale, of movement of the product from the retailer to the consumer in exchange for payment, is done in such a way that there is a very high standard of ‑- of oversight to make sure there’s no violation of the ABC sales, particularly regarding sales to minors, sales to obviously intoxicated people, and sales in situations that create dangers to the ‑- to the person or to other people in the area.
And that ‑- that will take quite a bit of effort, I think, to work out an electronic monitoring system that will provide that level of security, and that monitoring system needs to be maintained and reviewed, both by the state, by the ABC, and also by the local jurisdiction, so it’s ‑- it’s a very tall order to ensure that you’ve got high fidelity in maintaining ABC regulations in these third‑party regulations.
And it’s ‑- I agree with the earlier comments about the widespread problems with diligence and following regulations for delivery.
So those are my comments; thank you. And I’ll put them in writing as well.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Mr. Wittman. Appreciate your time and interest in participating in this public hearing. Thank you for your comments.
A reminder, again, if anyone does wish to make comments in this hearing, pleased raise your hand in the Zoom “participants” box.
And I see someone took me up on that invitation very quickly, Cinthia Finnigan, and you have indicated you wish to make a public comment, so Ms. Finnigan, the floor is yours.
MS. FINNIGAN: All right. Thank you so much.
Hi, everyone. My name is Cinthia Finnigan, and I’m a member of the California Alcohol Policy Alliance, CAPA. As a resident of Santa Clarita, and as someone who works in LA cities, specifically the Hollywood area, I am in support of the Administrative Emergency Decisions Regulatory Action to suspend liquor licenses immediately that are willfully remaining open past curfew, with indoor service, overcapacity, and/or without the proper public safety precautions because ABC’s mission is to protect public health, safety, and welfare through licensing alcohol businesses and enforcing ‑- and enforcing legislative standards.
However, the current law, though it does have a large loophole that will allow licensees to continue to cause immediate danger to public health, safety, and its welfare. Not addressing this loophole is complicit with higher rates of contracting COVID‑19 and ultimately death. This regulatory action is about holding bad actors accountable, and this is pro public health and pro community interest.
In addition, we demand ABC takes public health and safety precautions and regulates the third‑party delivery. It’s important because there’s a lack of oversight from those third‑party deliveries. ABC has conducted sting operations that have shown over 70 percent failure of compliance. This lack of regulation is further compromising youth and families of color, who lack the information to comply appropriately. Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you very much for your time and comments; greatly appreciated.
Again, if anyone wishes to make a comment, please click the “Raise Hand” button, and we will call upon you.
Seeing no one at this time, we will go off the record until someone indicates they wish to make a ‑- a comment on the record.
The time is now 1:11 p.m., and I will be muting my audio and stopping the video.
(Whereupon, a recess was held from 1:11 p.m. until 1:31 p.m.)
MR. BOTTING: All right. The time is 1:31 p.m. We are back on the record in the public hearing for an Administrative Emergency Decision regulation pending, and Mayra Jimenez has raised her hand to be heard.
So Ms. Jimenez, the floor is yours. Thank you.
MS. JIMENEZ: Thank you. And thank you, ABC, for hosting this public hearing.
My name is Mayra Jimenez, and I’m the advocacy manager at Alcohol Justice. I am a lifelong resident of the city of Los Angeles, specifically the neighborhood of Highland Park, and I do organizing around advocating for community and public health issues, as they pertain to alcohol regulation in Southern California and across the state.
I’m here to support the Administrative Emergency Decision regulation. This is a really important thing for us to consider today, and I just want to emphasize that this is a life ‑- sorry, a longstanding issue of lack of compliance. This isn’t something that is new to the pandemic, but this is something that we’re discussing now, and we’ve seen be further exacerbated during the pandemic. And we have an opportunity to really, truly recognize those establishments that care about quality of life, public health and safety, and be able to address those that are bad actors and have historically not been complying with the law.
So I want to really emphasize that the fact that we’re here today is not to condemn licensees. This is specifically for those that are not complying with the law and are bad operators. I personally have worked in the communities of Pico Union, Koreatown, and Westlake in Los Angeles, more closely around addressing the issue with noncompliant businesses there, where you have a two‑mile radius and over 300 licenses in that area.
And so it’s important to ‑- to ‑- to highlight here that community members ‑- and it is well‑known that it ‑- it is very difficult to shut down an establishment, and it’s not an accessible process for community members at all. In communities like this, it is very well known that it takes ten years or more to be able to get an establishment to be shut down, and this is a problem.
And so this is why we’re here today. We have folks that have spoken around the issues in their communities. This is a prevention issue. This is a public health issue. This hearing today is about being proactive and not reactive, which is what we continue to see as a part of the challenge with alcohol licensees. So this is an opportunity for transparency and accountability.
And as we heard from a previous licensee, those that truly want to operate in accordance with the law will be doing so, and those that will not, this will be an opportunity to clear the path. We are in the middle of a global pandemic, with a lot more that is being compromised. And for far too long these businesses that have not been operating or have been operating unlawfully have benefited from this long litigation process. And so those opposed to this clearly support bad operators and compromising this quality of life.
And I really want to emphasize the life component because the time that we’re in right now really offers us an opportunity to improve this ‑- how severely we have contributed to the detriment of lives over time, and specifically, now, during this pandemic. So opposing to this regulation really puts into question the morals of those that are still choosing to stand up and speak out on behalf of profits over people, where we truly are just trying to get folks to abide by the law and be operators that have good faith, and our businesses that are working to support community and be establishments of good intention.
And I want to emphasize what was mentioned early ‑- earlier that not addressing this loophole is very clearly complicit with contributing to higher rates of contracting COVID‑19 and ultimately death. And so this is very critical that ABC takes a strong stance on this. Something that historically has, perhaps, been a challenge for the Department. The pandemic offered this opportunity to have that leadership, to be able to address these issues in the community, and garner a lot more support. As you’ve seen, folks are speaking out on this. There is a lot of concern. And this is a very important issue that we are here, speaking out again ‑- out, in support of.
And in addition, I want to elevate the demands of the other folks that have spoken on this, to emphasize the importance of taking these public health and safety precautions that have been central to us being here for this hearing today, to also consider the key role that regulating third-party delivery plays in this process.
And I really want to emphasize this, because we do not want any of those comments that were made in relation to third‑party delivery to be dismissed because this is very much a part of how are we hol ‑- holding alcohol licensees accountable, and the disbursement of alcohol in our community we know is legally something that is intended to be licensed and regulated, and as explained prev ‑- previously by other folks that commented, it is very clear that there is a gap here, and today we’re here, talking about a loophole that exists.
Third‑party delivery is another opportunity that needs to be integrated into this dialogue, and none of these comments should be thrown out because there should be a license type for third‑party delivery, without question. The question of regulating third‑party delivery should not even be slightly a negotiation. ABC is the state department regulating alcohol licensee ‑- licensing, and this is about ABC using their power to do the right thing and promote positi ‑- positive quality of life to protect ‑- protect those most negatively impacted: black, brown, and low‑income families.
ABC really is in a place to take a more equity‑based approach and consider how those most impacted by things like sting operations or lack of compliance are those least informed and already heavily policed, as opposed to creating regulations to address this lack of procedure that exists for third‑party delivery.
So advocates today have spoken on looking for ABC’s leadership to address this crisis of alcohol availability through these third‑party providers, and we need to act now. This is about kids. My kids, your kids, those suffering from social isolation, mental health, or dealing with recovery issues. This is about my family members and neighbors. Those who work for these third‑party delivery companies, trying to make a living during a pandemic and maybe not having the right information, and possibly compromising their livelihood even further by not having the appropriate regulation to instate training for themselves, to have training instated for themselves, to be able to provide the delivery of alcohol in accordance with the law.
And so we can’t continue to not regulate. This lack of regulation ‑- or pretend that this isn’t something that’s not happening. And we can’t continue to remain stagnant or reactionary on alcohol compliance anymore. The pandemic is really encouraging and pushing a lot of our departments to be more proactive and step up to the occasion, because we are losing lives. We are compromising a lot in our communities, especially those black, brown, and low‑income folks.
And it’s clear that this is an opportunity to put low‑income, brown, black children and families first, and the Department has the opportunity to do that. Because all ‑- all handling of alcohol sales in all capacity needs to be held to the same standard of regulation, and people are clearly more important than profit during this pending ‑- pandemic, so we really encourage ABC to take a critical look at both of these two pieces, and how do we make sure that we’re holding licensees accountable and creating the appropriate processes to not further compromise the equity issues that we already have in our communities.
Thank you for your time.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Ms. Jimenez, for your time and comments. Greatly appreciated.
No hands are presently raised for additional comments, so we will go off the record momentarily. However, just again, a reminder, that if you do not wish to make verbal comments in the course of this hearing, but wish to submit comments, you may do so in writing to the Department at the email address you should be seeing on your screen, or all of the information is also on the Department’s website, abc.ca.gov, under the law and policy tab and pending regulations. You may access all of the documentation relative to this particular regulation.
The comment period does close at 12 noon next Wednesday, December 9th, 2020. All comments must be received by the Department at that time. Any late comments cannot be considered.
So we will go off the record here again at 1:41 p.m. And if anyone does wish to make a comment, please raise your hand in the Zoom screen, that “participants” tab, and we will go back on the record to hear your comments. Thank you very much.
(Whereupon, a recess was held)
MR. DE RUYTER: Hello, everybody. This is Robert de Ruyter for ABC. I’m trying to get on video here. Just a second. There we are.
Matthew Botting had to step out of the room for a moment, so I’m here. It looks like we have two hands. The first to go up was Isaac Hong.
You will have five minutes to speak and have the floor. After that, I will put a message out if the five minutes is done, and we’ll move on to Jessica Abaya. If there’s more, Mr. Hong, that you have to say, you can sign up for a second five‑minute increment if ‑- if you desire.
With that, Isaac Hong, the floor is yours.
MR. HONG: Oh, thank you. Thanks, first of all, I ‑- I would like to thank ABC to have this public hearing for us.
My name is Isaac, and I am a member of Coalition for Prevention and Awareness in LA Metro area. I am in support of the Administrative Emergency Decision regulation to suspend li ‑- liquor licenses immediately that are willfully remaining open past curfew, with indoor service, overcapacity, and are without proper public safety precautions because being essential is a privilege, not a right.
ABC has the administrative power to regulate, especially for ‑- operate business in a not right way. And also, this will provide clarity to law enforcement officers, ABC licensees, and the public of the regulatory procedure to implement Administrative Emergency Decisions to stop, also, people who operate le ‑- operate their business not right way.
And also, I would like to ask for ABC to take public health and safety precaution and regulate third‑party delivery. This is really important because there is no formal or streamlined Responsible Beverage Service training especially for the third‑party delivery providers. We get that for the drivers if they get more delivery they get more money, more ‑- we get that, but I would like them to, like, follow the law and be responsible with their delivery. However, it seems that we don’t really have straight, or like, proper regulation to that delivery platform, so I wish that ABC could work for that specific area, as well.
And that’s it; thank you.
MR. DE RUYTER: Thank you. We’ll now have ‑- hear from Ms. Jessica Abaya.
The floor is yours.
MS. ABAYA: Hello. Thank you.
My name is Jessica Abaya, and I am a member of CAPA, California Alcohol Policy Alliance, and AADAP, Asian‑American Drug Abuse Program. I am in support of Administrative Emergency Decisions Regulatory Action to suspend liquor licenses immediately that are willfully remaining open past curfew, with indoor service, overcapacity, and/or without proper public safety precautions because, well, at some point during the summer months, during the safer at home, and when the curfew orders were placed, a popular app, Uber Eats, sent a notification message that stated: Uber Eats now serves alcohol. I was shocked because I learned this information from my niece, who is 20 years old, via a text message screenshot. Of course, with young adults comes curiosity, and to see if alcohol can really be delivered to the home. And with just one click, the barbecue place that she ordered from delivered the beverage to her home.
My concern is not only placed on my niece, who now had access to alcohol products, but it is also placed on the idea of the multiplier factor; how many other underage young adults, eighteen to twenty years old, received this notification on their phone, stating that Uber Eats now serves alcohol, and how many fell victim to this message notification.
One drink may seem harmless to some, but it’s one drink that could lead to many more. Alcohol beverages need to be carefully monitored, especially before it leaves the restaurant through a third‑party delivery app and into the wrong hands.
In addition, I demand ABC take public health and safety precaution and regulate third‑party delivery. This is important because while everyone is interested in profits made, especially during the pandemic, we should also understand how to monitor alcohol transactions from the point of origin, i.e. the restaurant, and all the way into the consumer’s hands, which is the endpoint.
I wouldn’t want to see alcohol in the hands of my niece again, or any under ‑- underage young adult, for that matter. We are in a global pandemic, and while supporting economic interest is part of our society, all handling alcohol sales in all capacities needs to be held in the same standard of regulations. Businesses cannot be saved at the expense of innocent lives; especially my niece. Thank you.
MR. DE RUYTER: Want to thank you, everyone, for their comments. I believe we have another hand up.
And I apologize, I’m going to butcher this last name, but Antwon Cloird.
MR. CLOIRD: Yes, how you doing? My name is Antwon Cloird. I am the AOD District 1 (ph.) supervisor for West County. In my region, there is too many liquor stores in the black neighborhoods, black and brown neighborhoods. They’re, like, stacked on top of each other. And so it’s hard to monitor those youngsters that are getting access to cigarettes and alcohol because it’s just ‑- there’s profit; you know what I’m saying?
And so as I’m hearing the other responders talk about, you know, after hours opening and taking licenses, it should have been going on anyway. It’s just ‑-
And with the hotels, having delivery to these hotels, I’m also ‑- I’m ‑- I’m working on these hotels and I look at the clients and their substance abuse use. And it’s, like, we have rules here, but you know, they go off premises and do what they do and come back totally discombobulated, you know? And
It’s just a lot, man, that we really have to sit down and discuss and come to a medium, bottom line, of how we’re going to serve this population in a healthy manner. Excuse me.
So that’s all I have to say. Thank you.
MR. DE RUYTER: Like to thank everybody for their comments and for being able to participate in this public hearing. I don’t see any more hands, but for ‑- sorry to be a broken record, like Matt, but if you are wanting to speak at this public hearing, we’ll be here until 4. Please raise your hand using the “participants” button and the “Raise Hand” button at the bottom left hand corner of the window that comes up, so we can know that you would like to speak.
We’d like to thank everybody for being here and taking time out of their day to provide feedback for the regulatory package on Administrative Emergency Decisions and we will now go off the record. It is 2 o’clock p.m., and we’ll return if we have another commenter. Thank you.
(Whereupon, a recess was held from 2:00 p.m. until 2:33 p.m.)
MR. BOTTING: Hello again, everyone. It is 2:33. We are going back on the record with the public hearing for the Administrative Emergency Decision regulation that is pending with the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Appreciate those of you hardcore attendees who are managing to stick around through all of the down time. We have been advised through the chat function that Brenda Villanueva ‑- sorry for butchering that ‑- would like to speak.
So Ms. Villanueva, please go ahead with your comment. Thank you.
MS. VILLANUEVA: Hi. Thank you for the opportunity.
My name is Brenda Villanueva, and I am a member of the California Alcohol Policy Alliance, and I’m cochair of the Los Angeles Drug and Alcohol Policy Alliance. I am in support of Administrative Emergency Decisions, regulatory action to suspend liquor licenses immediately that are willfully remaining open past curfew, with indoor service, overcapacity, and/or without proper public safety precautions because this loophole allows for lengthy lite ‑- litigation that can defer action for months and years, meanwhile continue to harm the public at the expense of business interests.
Being essential is a privilege, not a right. ABC has the administrative power to regulate bad operators. This regulatory action is about holding bad actors accountable, and this is pro public health and pro community interests. ABC’s mission is to protect public health, safety, and welfare through licensing alcohol businesses and enforcing legislative standards, and not addressing this loophole is complicit with higher rates of contracting COVID‑19 and ultimately death.
In addition, we demand ABC take public health and safety precaution and regulate third‑party delivery. This is important because there is a lack of oversight of third-party delivery, and with stricter stay‑at‑home orders, delivery is deemed an essesh ‑- essential service, but it is not regulated. ABC has conducted sting operations that have shown over seventy percent failure of compliance of third-party delivery with youth, being compromised at the expense of this lack of regulation and oversight.
This lack of regulation is further compromising youth and families of color, who lack the information to comply appropriate ‑- appropriately. This is likely to lead to enforcement that negatively impacts low‑income communities of color; black and brown folks already suffering from higher rates of COVID, unemployment, and overall further compromised quality of life. ABC needs to take an equity‑based approach and consider how those most impacted by sting operations for lack of compliance are those least informed and already heavily policed, as opposed to creating regulation to address the lack of procedure.
We’re all dealing with this pandemic and we are all pro‑business and moving the society forward, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of public health or public safety and at the expense of those mol ‑- most vulnerable. Businesses cannot be ex ‑- saved at the expense of innocent lives. People are way more important than profit during a pandemic. Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you very much for your comments and your time in participating in this public hearing. Again, to those of you who had ‑- who are maybe new to this ‑- this public hearing, the Zoom hearing, we are taking public comments on the Department’s published, proposed regulation for Administrative Emergency Decisions. If you do not wish to participate in this portion of the comment period, that is fine. You may still submit comments in writing to the Department.
They must be received by the Department by noon, 12 noon next Wednesday, December 9th, 2020. They can be sent to the email address on your screen, email@example.com, or they can be snail mailed, as long as they are actually received by the Department by noon next Wednesday. If we do not have them in hand by then, they cannot be considered as part of this rulemaking package.
All comments, both written and verbal, will be responded to as part of the final rulemaking package that will be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law. And again, we really do appreciate the engagement of you all in this process. It was very important to the Department and it does aid us in finalizing this regulatory package.
So with that, again, if you do want to make comments, the “Raise Hand” button under the “participants” tab in the Zoom menu will indicate to us that you wish to be heard on the record. This is being recorded and a written transcript of the comments today will also be prepared and will be made available as part of the final rulemaking package.
So seeing no hands being raised presently, we will go off the record again. It is 2:39 p.m. This hearing does remain open until 4 p.m., so at 3 ‑- if no one raises their hand to be heard, at 3:30 I will go back on the record and we’ll leave it open for any last‑minute comments that people may have, with the intention of actually closing the record at 4 p.m.
So at this stage, I will mute myself again. It is now 2:39, and we will go off the record.
(Whereupon, a recess was held from 2:39 p.m. until 3:23 p.m.)
MR. BOTTING: Hello again, everyone. It is 3:23 p.m. We’re back on the record with the Administrative Emergency Decision public hearing. Thank you again to those of you who are sticking around to the bitter end.
We’ve been advised through the chat function that Xavier Flores wishes to speak.
Mr. Flores, please make your comments. Thank you.
MR. FLORES: All right. Well, thank you very much for ‑- for this opportunity.
I work in the area of the Antelope Valley, Los Angeles County. And present in this hearing right now are three other staff, Rosie Mainella, Aurora Hernandez, and Victor Ramirez. We’re all here to express our strong support for the re ‑- regulatory relief that gives ABC, Alcohol Beverage Control, the authority to close down licenses when they don’t abide by the rules that are being put in place right now, the regulatory relief rules. We’re very much in favor of ABC having authority to close those establishments down.
And I would like to add that we were kind ‑- to taken aback when we saw some of ABC’s documents, claiming that the reason they were allowing for delivery of alcohol beverages to different households was, in fact ‑- well, it seemed to us that the emphasis was on benefitting the business and making sure they don’t go under, giving them an opportunity to stay afloat, and we get that. But somewhere along the line, we read that it might even benefit those individuals who are experiencing a great deal of stress, as a result of all the Coronavirus fallout: lack of employment, losing jobs, losing their small businesses, et cetera. I believe that ABC has no place making those kinds of statements. They shouldn’t. I hope we don’t see them ever again.
You know, coming from the health field and looking at this issue from a completely different perspective, it’s our opinion that alcohol would do nothing but exacerbate the problem. Not relieve stress, but actually cause more, and cause more problems, too. We know it’s related to spousal abuse, child abuse, aggravated assaults, a lot of violence. And that’s the last thing we need to see right now.
So again, we support the regulations that gives authority to ABC to clamp down on businesses that are not abiding by the rules. At the same time, we hope ABC takes another position on the issue of alcohol availability to those being impacted by Coronavirus, and reverses the position that it’s ‑- actually could be a benefit to them. It ‑- we ‑- we doubt that very much.
All right. Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Mr. Flores, for your comments. They will be considered in the context of the pending regulatory action for Administrative Emergency Decision.
At this point ‑- it is almost 3:30. This public hearing is scheduled to go until 4 o’clock. So rather than going off the record again, at this time I’m just going to stay on. I will mute myself, so you don’t hear me coughing, but we’ll just sort of keep the video on, stay on and available. But if anyone does wish to make any comments, please click on the “Raise Hand” feature under the “participants” tab in the Zoom call, so that we can then recognize you and call upon you for the ‑- for submitting public comments.
Once again, however, if you do not wish to make a statement here or a public comment in this hearing, you may still submit written comments to the Department that we’ll ‑- that must be received by ABC on or before 12 noon, on December 9th, 2020. They can be submitted by email or regular mail, as long as they are received by that time. And all comments, including comments made here, during this hearing, will be responded to in writing as part of the submission of the Department to the Office of Administrative Law for consideration in this regulation package.
I see that Carson Benowitz‑Fredericks has raised his hand to be ‑- to make a comment.
So Mr. Benowitz‑Fredericks, please submit your comment. Thank you.
MR. BENOWITZ-FREDERICKS: Great, thank you. Thank you, Matthew, and thank you for the opportunity to speak.
My name is Carson Benowitz-Fredericks. I am from Alcohol Justice in San Rafael, California, and resident of El Cerrito, California. I am speaking in support of ABC’s decision to use emergency powers to suspend licenses prior to appeal when there are clear and present threats to public health. This is a ‑- a power that is within not just the scope of ABC’s po ‑- ABC’s responsibilities, but it is necessary for ABC to be able to continue their mandate of keeping alcohol sales legal and simultaneously, safe.
As many have said before, this is doubly so ‑- doubly necessary now because we do have a pandemic. A pandemic spreads for ‑- among people, whether or not they’ve made the decision to go into a bar, so that, again, one person say ‑- nobody can say my decision to go have a drink tonight is solely my own risk; they are putting the risk of people who had no intention of engaging that exposure ‑- putting their ‑- making it ‑- putting them at risk of potential fatal complications from COVID‑19.
More broadly, I want to emphasize that alcohol harm and alcohol overconsumption is not a moral issue. It is not a ‑- it is not the sort of creeping decay issue. It has the potential to lead to grievous injury and death in the short term. So with that in mind, ABC absolutely needs to be able to suspend licenses in ‑- in context where somebody ‑- where there is a clear risks of violence in the area, clear risks of driving under the influence, clear risks of service to underage patrons, or service to already intoxicate patrons.
To loop back to underage patrons, you know, alcohol‑related causes are the leading cause of ‑- the leading preventable cause of death in this age group. So again, while ‑- when we act ‑- when ‑- when we allow this to draw out for six months, for nine months while the ‑- while appeals are heard and responded to, we are not just, you know, making it more complicated, we are actually making it so that these outlets can contribute to immediate death. This ‑- this is something that, again, ABC was founded ‑- it is central to their mission to prevent and control this, and we support their continued abilities to do so.
I do want to also speak to defend some of my colleagues who have been raising the issue of, in particular, third-party delivery in this ‑- in this context. I do want to try ‑- make the ‑- the effort to connect this back to emergency powers. Essentially, we are ‑- with third-party and a number of the regulatory relief measures, we are entering a unexplored area of deregulation, in terms of alcohol service, and that leads to the possibility that people will act not understanding what these new ‑- new rules are, or ultimately could be an outright bad actor using these rules to, essentially, give themselves plausible deniability of what their actual responsibilities are.
With that in mind, you know, we ‑- we ‑- we believe that quick action to stop sales that are, again, at risk of causing us immediate harms, this immediate injuries, immediate death, that is the purview of AB ‑- ABC. And therefore, as ABC is using emergency powers to suspend the licenses that it has, it needs to be able to create new categories of licenses and new categories of oversight for these other actors that are engaged in alcohol sales, that are benefitting from alcohol sales, but have absolutely no accountability for the harm that it may cause. And the easiest way to do that, obviously, is to license them and then use the emergency powers to suspend that license if there is ‑- if they are acting to the detriment of public health and safety.
So with that in mind, again, I ‑- I ask that ABC’s use of these emergency powers be protected, that it be continued after this COVID emergency is over. I ‑- this is ‑- again, these powers are necessary whether or not there is a short‑term crisis.
These actions do, again, reward. Not ‑- they don’t just punish people who are in violation. They basically make it so that there is not unfair competition for licensees that remain in compliance with public health and safety guidelines.
And again, we are a little bit into the unknown, and we should be bringing ‑- bringing businesses that are operating in these sort of gray space into the oversight of ABC, and we should be able to use emergency powers to suspend their ability to operate if they are not doing so in good faith.
Thank you for your time.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you very much for your comments.
We have a raised hand from Rosie Mainella.
Ms. Mainella, the floor is yours for your comments. Thank you.
MS. MAINELLA: Good afternoon to everyone. Do you want me to take ‑- what is it? The hostess asked you start your video. Oh. No, I didn’t brush my hair today. Hello. So I did brush my hair, I’m just ‑- you know, not my best today.
But I just wanted you guys to know that I ‑- we’ve been reading about ‑- I’m ‑- well, my name is Maria Mainella and I’m with the Pueblo y Salud in the Antelope Valley Palmdale/Lancaster area, and we’ve been having a huge rise in our COVID cases, and we don’t believe that alcohol is a necessity in this particular time. And it also weakens the immune system, putting people more susceptible at catching the Coronavirus.
But also, we’re concerned about the delivery services of alcohol, just because they’re not very well regulated. So if we can find ways to do a better job of that, it would be greatly appreciated. And I agree with the statements that were just made a few minutes ago by Carson Benowitz and Xavier Flores in regards to you having the power to make a difference in those businesses that are not complying to the ‑- to the laws and rules and regulations. So I’m just for that.
And thank you. I don’t have much more to say. We’re just wanting to keep our communities safe, especially the young people that are not supposed to be drinking at this moment, and for some reason, they’re able to get their alcohol on, no matter what.
And it’s ‑- it’s very detrimental, especially now, because a lot of the kids are using marijuana in conjunction with the alcohol. And I don’t know if you know, but if you use marijuana, which is an antiemetic, it helps you not to throw up. And one of our very own systems in our body, whenever we have too much alcohol in our system, we’re ‑- we throw it up, right? So that way we don’t get alcohol poisoning. But now, since they’re mixing the two together, it has become a lot more dangerous. So we need to be more cautious, and ‑- and do more ‑- more education, which we are doing, as Pueblo y Salud, in our community, but it needs to go out to everyone and let them know that this is going on. And that’s all I have to say.
Thank you very much for your time, and thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you very much. We greatly appreciate your time and your comments. They will be included as part of the record in this rulemaking proceeding.
It is 3:37 currently, so we’ve just got a little bit more than twenty minutes before the hearing will close out, so if anyone remaining still has any comments they wish to make on the record, then please feel free to raise your hand in the participant box, and we will call upon you. Alternatively, as I’ve indicated previously, you can submit comments in writing. They can be emailed or mailed to the Department.
If you have not yet reviewed the rulemaking package in its current form, you know, we do encourage you to do so. It’s all ‑- all of the documentation is available on the Department’s website at abc.ca.gov, and you can access it through the law and policy tab on the homepage, and the rulemaking activities. The current language, the statement of reasons, and written comments received to date are all available through that ‑- through those links. So I do encourage you to review everything, and again, written comments must be received by the Department no later than noon next Wednesday, December 9th, 2020. The Department cannot consider any written ‑- or any comments received after that time.
Thank you very much. We’re just going to ‑- I’m going to mute myself, but we’ll stay on video and leave this open until 4 o’clock, at which point I will close the hearing. So if you do wish to make comments at this point, please do raise the hand. Thank you.
All right. We have a raised hand from Raul Verdugo.
And Mr. Verdugo, please make your comments. Thank you.
I’m sorry, Mr. Verdugo; if you are speaking, we cannot hear you.
MR. VERDUGO: Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Oh, there we go. Right.
MR. VERDUGO: Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Okay.
MR. VERDUGO: I appreciate that. Thank you.
All right. As a member of the Los Angeles Drug ‑- I support the Administrative Emergency Decisions Regulatory Action to immediately suspend the liquor licenses of those who are willfully remaining open past curfew, with indoor service, overcapacity, and/or are operating without public safety precautions.
The ability to operate any business within our state is not an entitlement. It’s a privilege that is accompanied by laws and regulations. No merchant should have the ability to undermine the public health of the community for which it is meant to serve, nor the recommended guidelines put in place by our government agencies and/or public health officials. Consequential measures should be set in place to preserve public health and penalize those who offend it.
I also support those who have made the demand that ABC act upon public health and safety precautions to regulate third‑party delivery. Handling of alcohol sales in all capacities needs to be held to the same standards of regulation. Businesses cannot profit at ‑- at the expense of innocent lives, least of all now, during the pandemic. Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you very much for your comments; they will be out of the record. Greatly appreciated.
So we will remain on the record for the next nineteen minutes. If anyone else wishes to make comments, please raise your hand in the “participants” tab. Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Looks like we have Ruben Rodriguez raising his hand in the old‑fashioned way of actually raising his hand on video, rather than clicking on the button.
So I presume that means you wish to make a comment, so please feel free to do so. Thank you.
MR. RODRIGUEZ: Yes, I ‑- I just want to ‑- also to add my ‑- my ‑- my comment about the ‑-
First of all, Ruben Rodriguez; I’m ‑- I’m with ‑- executive director of Pueblo y Salud, and I’m also a member of Los Angeles Drug and Alcohol Policy ‑- Policy Alliance and by extension, member of California Alcohol Policy Alliance, and I just want to, you know, also put on the record that, you know, I ‑- I am, or we are, in support of the Administrative Emergency Decision, regulatory action to suspend liquor licenses immediately that are willfully remaining, you know, open past curfew, with indoor services, overcapacity, and/or without proper public safety precautions.
You know, for the same reasons that ‑- that we do with every other establishment, you know, that by and large is problematic and they violate rules and regulations and ‑- and laws, and ‑- and you know, it takes forever to deal with any type of problem outlet. So you know, I want it on ‑- put on the record that I think ABC should be able to ‑- you know, with ‑- with all fairness, if someone’s violating or not following the law or procedures that their license should either be suspended immediately or ‑- or revoked because ‑- you know ‑- you know, there’s ‑- they saw these loopholes and ways of getting around these problems that are caused by people that don’t play by the rules. So I just wanted to do that.
And ‑- and then, obviously the other one of ‑- of you know, that ‑- you know, ABC regulate these third‑party delivery services that, you know, are not trained. Probably will be young people that ‑- that, you know, will not be checking IDS or even if they see somebody that’s already maybe intoxicated, that you know, they’re just going to deliver the liquor ‑- the liquor anyways. And the same argument, you know? We ‑- we always have had a ‑- I guess the unofficial third parties, when ‑- you know, the shoulder taps when young people ask an older person to buy liquor for them. You know, I could just see this ‑- this third‑party delivery service, you know, doing the same thing.
So I just want to be on the record. We’re ‑- we’re sa ‑- we’re saying ABC should be ‑- should figure out a way to regulate that and ‑- and do it quickly. Because I’m hoping this pandemic passes soon, but ‑- and we understand. You know, the economics, people need to conduct their business, but you know, the way I look at it, if you’re running a restaurant or a food establishment, then your success should be determined by good food, or good quality food or good service, and not have to resort to a ‑- to you know, selling liquor. I mean, that’s almost like saying, you know ‑- you know, if you were selling liquor ‑-
I mean, I’m going to an extreme here, you could also be selling drugs on the side, or you know, and some of the ‑- I’m not going to say the ‑- the ethnic group, but there was restaurants in certain areas of San Francisco, LA, where you could go, you know, be served food, and there would be, you know, prostitution going on on the side, you know, or a ‑- I don’t know what you would call that, you know. Or gambling, for that matter.
So you know, a restaurant is a restaurant. It does not have to depend on ‑- on liquor to survive, so you know, anything we can do to slow the ‑- that accessibility of ‑- of liquor, especially to the younger people, I think ABC needs to do that.
And that’s it. Thank you.
MR. BOTTING: Thank you, Mr. Rodriguez. Your comments will be part of the rulemaking package.
Again, if anyone wishes to make a comment, you can click on the “Raise Hand” button or do as Mr. Rodriguez did, the old‑fashioned way and wave your hand to get our attention, but if you do that, make sure your camera is on, otherwise we won’t see you and you’ll just be waiving to yourself.
So thank you very much. We have about twelve minutes before the hearing closes, so if anyone has any comments, please make yourself known at this stage.
(End of recording)