Public Hearing Transcript
Transcription of the recorded public meeting on proposed rulemaking on Expanded Premises from November 1, 2022 Sacramento, California.
Download a printable copy of Public Hearing Transcript by clicking the PDF download button.
- Robert de Ruyter, Assistant General Counsel
Transcribed by: Shelley Kelber, Foothill Transcription Company, Elk Grove, California
Transcribed Recorded Public Meeting
January 5, 2023
MR. DE RUYTER: If you want to make a comment today, please send a message to Sarah Easter so we can get everyone registered to make a comment today. A quick reminder that if you have made a written comment, we will take those into account just the same as these. We’re glad for the robust engagement in this regulation.
As many of you know, and if you spoke in the chat, the initial statement of reasons and the regulations things are there, can be accessed. And this regulation is quite important because right now all of the noncontiguous premises expansions that are out there due to COVID were set to expire a year after the emergency for COVID is declared over which has been stated that it will be declared over in February of next year. Meaning March 1 of 2024 all those would have to be closed as of right now.
So this regulation was an attempt to make these long-lasting and permanent. So we are excited for the comments. We’re planning — this is not the final version of the regulations. We are planning on changing them and coordinating through these comments and comments that are written to make them better for the public while still being compliant with statutory rules that are in place that create issues with the, you know, and insuring that there’s no consumption of alcohol off the licensed premises in those spaces between the licensed areas. I don’t know if we have anybody that has requested to speak yet. But, again, for those of you that are just getting here, if you are going to request to speak, please send a comment request to Sarah Easter. We have no one here in person today. So we’re assuming most comments are going to be down through this virtual format. If anybody has any other questions about the process feel free to message Sarah or Shelby or I, as well, through the chat function.
We are going to get started with our comments in another two to three minutes. Those that are requesting will be unmuted in order. Thank you.
We are about to take our first comment from Michael Scippa. This is also a reminder that this is for the public to commune with the Department, this is not an interactive public hearing. And like the things on your screen say, all comments will be responded to in writing through the final statement of reasons. We do anticipate another round of public comment with changes to this regulation that will be probably published shortly after the first of the year to change and modify these according to the comments that we’ve already received and that we receive today.
So, Michael Scippa, you are being — I’m asking you to unmute now.
MR. SCIPPA: Perfect. Good morning. Can you all hear me?
MR. DE RUYTER: Yes, we can, thank you.
MR. SCIPPA: Okay, great.
Yeah, I’d like to actually thank ABC and Eric Hirata and staff for the opportunity to join this important discussion today. I’d like to start with a quote that was published recently in Healthy Alcohol Marketplace by Ken Ericson. I’m not sure if you’re all familiar with that resource, but it’s a terrific resource and I encourage you all to look for it. And the quote is this — “alcohol regulations were created for public health reasons. I mean it’s dangerous to remove them for economic reasons.”
So the subject today is contiguous spaces, aka expanded footprints, were never intended to be permanent. They are almost without exception in areas that have ad hoc improvements that were intended to house individuals. The criteria of control of the attendees is essentially unenforceable and may conflict with local legislation that requires these spaces, often built on public lands, to be available to the public. This, of course, calls into question for us anyway, the very project of making permanent regulations. Our central concern from a public safety perspective is increased noise, litter, and interactions between and among inebriated individuals.
With this in mind we would expect, one, any liability for individuals moving between nearby parklets be shared by both licensees, aggressive use of ABC of its powers under the 2018 law SB1503 to minimize additional noise and disruption, efforts to make obligations for licensees to reduce the public safety impact by affirmatively offering operating conditions and in making those conditions public, and public notification of these premise changes and revised conditions as applicable be made available to neighbors and neighboring businesses with clear explanation of the protest or complaint process.
We have some secondary concerns over expansions of a huge number of alcohol licensees’ abilities to serve becoming part of a larger mosaic of public health and public safety issues.
As such we would expect, one, that ABC reserve the power to broadly revoke expanded footprints from all licensees in areas where undue alcohol harm is occurring, as well as clearly stated trigger criteria for when that power would be used.
Two, continued enforcement on regulations around outdoor advertising.
Three, refusal to allow outdoor alcohol services in areas with heavy and evident youth foot traffic, particularly but not exclusively near say schools, libraries, community centers, bus stops, playgrounds, fields, and other youth sports facilities.
Four, and again, we believe these footprints are the project of kind of a reckless conversion of emergency assistance into a perceived entitlement. The ramifications will continue to be felt for the rest of the decade and we expect that these impacts would be mitigated and that the following transparency and accountability measures should be in place.
One, after recording and full public availability of operating conditions for any licensee enjoying these privileges.
Two, efforts to identify locally imposed operating conditions and assure that ABC conditions are at least as restrictive, if not more so.
Three, lists of conditions posted on the outside of parklets. And four, records of assent or agreement from neighbors and neighboring businesses. That’s the sum of my comments today. We’re also submitting a letter that will reiterate these and I thank you for the opportunity to participate.
MR. DE RUYTER: Thank you for your comments.
For those of you that have come in during — we have started taking public comment on the noncontiguous license premises expansion regulation.
For those of you that have not been able to read the documents published by ABC, you can request those, we have an initial statement of reasons as well as the regulation’s text that is available. It’s also available at our website. But you can request that from Sarah or Shelby to receive that. It also might be in the chat; it was sent to everyone at the beginning.
But I’m not sure if that continues to carry on if you’ve come in late. We are taking comments.
Please limits your comments to five minutes. There’s a lot of people here.
You can also take another five minutes if you want to sign up and you haven’t finished your five minutes, you can sign up again and you’ll be put in at the end of line. Anybody that wishes to comment, please send a message to Sarah and she will get you on the list.
Yes, we’ll have that document reposted right now, thank you.
The initial statement of reasons and the regs text will post, keep an eye on the chat.
Then we will have our next participant which is Ben Bleiman.
I’m going to ask him to unmute.
All right, thank you.
MR. BLEIMAN: Everyone, my name is Ben Bleiman, and I am a business owner in San Francisco.
I’m also the founder of a group of bar owners in the city, we have 503 members who all own bars in the City of San Francisco. I’m also the chairman of the board of an organization formerly known as CMAC which is now being called California Nightlife which a state-wide organization that represents hundreds of nightlife establishments and workers across the state in the nightlife realm.
First, I want to thank the ABC for their flexibility and their willingness to work with license holders for the last three years. I think, you know, the relationship between license holders and ABC has not always been one of a lot of trust and I think there was a lot of trust that was actually built up over the last few years. And a lot of the credit goes to Eric Herata and the governor’s office and everybody who’s been working so hard over there to help us weather the pandemic.
So I just want to thank everybody for that. And I think this is an opportunity to kind of build on the trust that we’ve started to develop with one another.
The bar owners in San Francisco and (inaudible) are actually uniformly approving of most of these regs in their proposed state. We don’t think all of them are necessarily necessary, but we do understand the impetus behind them and we’re willing to accept them going forward with one exception and this is where we really want to express our reservations and our concern.
Literally, the only reg here that seems really really problematic to us is the requirement for a server to walk between the very short threshold between a doorway and in our case a parklet or shared space in the City of San Francisco.
We believe this is a solution in search of a problem. It’s very easy for people to just carry a drink over the threshold.
It’s easy to license that (audio malfunction) area (audio malfunction) already licensed for — or have the ability to be licensed. But what it would do is it would cut out literally hundreds of businesses from being able to participate because they don’t have servers and they have setups that don’t allow them to actually physically walk the drink to somebody there.
So we believe it causes an undue amount of harm while really not solving any issue. And if the problem that we’re trying to consider, other than the licensed area, is that somebody may take a beverage and walk off with it into the sunset on the streets of San Francisco.
I would just push back on this notion.
I don’t see any reason why somebody would spend eight to ten dollars on a beverage to walk away with it when literally every corner store sells beverages at a quarter of that price and they’re very easy to walk away with there.
So the idea that somebody’s going to go and spend four times as much to have an open container, it just simply is not born out by the facts.
And I will also say that, you know, I did hear the comments previous to this and we are fortunate in San Francisco where we don’t have a kind of a neo probe (inaudible) you just do your thing.
San Francisco lives, not just our economy but our culture and our communities live around our nightlife and safe consumption of alcohol.
And we’re very fortunate to have a large majority in the City of San Francisco with us as was evidenced by the passing of our shared spaces legislation and the embrace of our permit holders in the city by people from all walks of life.
And so, I just want to say that voices like that do not speak for San Francisco specifically and I don’t believe that people in San Francisco would appreciate those voices being — having sway over how they live their lives. So, again I want to thank everybody here for the hard work here.
I want to thank you for the regs and just point out that single issue that we have problems with.
Thank you very much and I will cede the rest of my time.
MR. DE RUYTER: Thank you again for your comments. Again, we can’t respond today because the responses need to be part of our public written record.
So they will — our responses will be available at the time of the final statement of reasons. Just also be on the way to look out that we are most likely going to change some of these regs going forward.
As with all regulatory processes we can’t think of everything that happens on the ground.
So, we rely on comments to make sure our regs can be efficient and cost effective and good for everyone and all voices throughout the state.
So, we anticipate changes to be made. If you are not on our regulatory list, please do so.
You can do that by going to the ABC.ca.gov website on the contact us feature or the subscribe feature.
I apologize, the subscribe feature is where you could do — to sign up for email alerts whenever regs are changed and whenever regs packages that affect alcohol are published.
We are doing that quite a lot these days.
We’ve done six of them this year and plan to keep doing it at this pace over the next little bit.
Again, Sarah put that in the chat to have the updates sent to you, so you don’t have to find them on our website.
We also post it to our website for everyone to see but sometimes it’s easier just to be emailed so you’re reminded. Because we will have another comment period based on the new changes that we would ask again to let us know how you feel about those changes as we keep going forward. Also just a reminder, we can’t change current statutory changes.
There are some things that we’re just limited to do that we can’t do under regulatory power that would require a statutory change. And if we determine or OAL determines that’s where it’s at then we, ABC, can’t make those changes until the law is changed.
So we have to work within the framework that we’re given. Especially something like this which is stretching the law as far as we can to continue these things that we’ve had during the pandemic and make them permanent under the statutory scheme that we currently have.
Do we have another comment?
Right now we have no one else that has requested to make a comment during this meeting. Feel free to either raise your hand or contact Sarah Easter if you’d like to make a comment.
But as of right now we are just waiting for another person to request that.
It looks like Mr. Matt Sutton has raised his hand?
MR. SUTTON: Hi, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
I’m Matt Sutton with California Restaurant Association.
I just want to thank you and the entire ABC team for all of the work the last few years with regard to regulatory relief.
You know, in a sense a lot of these proposals may have come out of the pandemic but they in many ways are just modernizing some of the alcohol laws in the state as it relates to outdoor dining. So we’ve found your work sensible, we found it fair, and we definitely find that it’s had adequate public safety protections.
Statewide trade organization we’re able to see how these are playing out in every corner of the state and not just looking at pockets of the state.
So as you can imagine, the ability to expand a restaurant footprint into these new and innovative and temporary settings enables restaurants to have more tables to offer service, more guests to be served, more food to be cooked, as a result of all this it was more jobs that were able to be retained throughout the pandemic and moving forward. Not to mention these spaces also had a huge impact on community and mental health because what they do is they further establish a sense of community in these regions that already had a good sense of community and in some cases, you know, it brought a sense of community to places where it didn’t exist before.
So these are the issues that have been driving this outdoor dining effort, as opposed to some of the narrative that you may hear from opponents. These policies while put out by ABC initially in the outset of the pandemic have since been further reviewed by the legislature and legislative committees, signed by the governor with regards to AB61 and SB314 and other legislation.
So I feel that you really have a good grasp of the issues. I think there’s been a lot of public policy review of these, and I think that the appropriate safeguards for public safety and proper service of alcohol are in place and have been. And you’ve been quick to respond to any areas where that was coming up short and we appreciate that.
So just real quickly a couple of things. One was mentioned by a gentleman previously, and that gets to the issue about requiring a restaurant server basically to transport the alcoholic beverages.
So we’re talking about these outdoor spaces that may or may not be contiguous to restaurants, the brick and mortar. In some cases it is just a hop, skip, and a jump to that exterior dining space. And in that situation, you know, I think there’s a desire for maybe some flexibility so that a patron could walk to that location. I realize that for enforcement a one size fits all approach probably makes sense. But then again, these spaces are so individualized in different areas of the state, different cities, high-density, low-density areas, that flexibility is also really important.
So that’s the sweet spot that we’d like to try to find with you, but, you know, we would prefer not to always have a restaurant server or staff person have to accompany that drink when it is just a hop, skip, and a jump across the sidewalk or into an external dining space.
So we’d appreciate more discussion on that issue.
The next issue gets to the monitoring obligation. We absolutely think that these remote spaces should be monitored. There is some language that suggests that the external dining spaces would need to be monitored from inside the brick-and-mortar restaurant and we would ask for some flexibility for alternative monitoring methods. There’s a lot of ways that restaurants monitor different areas of their properties now and I think that can be done.
But the idea, especially in really dense urban cores that you have to see it from the brick-and-mortar restaurant seems a bit limiting when you could station a staff person out on these exterior patios or dining spaces, or use technology or other methods to monitor the spaces.
So we agree with you on monitoring the spaces, we just think that some flexibility for different configurations would be helpful. The other issue relates to the barriers.
We definitely understand the need to delineate what areas are alcohol service areas and what areas are not. There has been some concern about the tendency to go with the hard barrier and I fully understand that the hard barrier makes total sense in certain circumstances with high vehicular traffic in the area. In other cases where you may not be in that, you know, sensitive dynamic, a non-hard barrier seems completely appropriate.
So we would just reiterate the need for flexibility there. And I know that the language does provide for ABC to have flexibility in that regard, but we just kind of wanted to punctuate that the trend of going with the hard barrier isn’t always the best situation logistically.
But to the extent it’s protecting public safety in areas where we need to be incredibly careful with vehicular traffic we get it, we’re for it.
Then the last issue is just a technical one, I think, that can be cleaned up with some clarifying language. And that really gets at what it means to be open and operating.
We are responsible for these outdoor spaces when we’re open and operating. We want to make sure that we don’t have nuanced situations where the restaurant’s actually closed, and the outdoor space is actually closed. But inside a lot of prep work goes on from our great staff well before the restaurant opens and well after the restaurant closes. And so, sensitivity to that and I think with some fine tuning on the language we can get there to meet the goal that you’ve stated here and, you know, truly capturing when we’re actually open.
So with that, I leave it there, and thank you for your great work and I thank you for all the diligent look at detail here and continuing to provide a public and safe space for outdoor restaurant dining with alcohol service.
MR. DE RUYTER: Thank you again, for your comments.
We have some new people again. Just to let you know this meeting is going until 2:00 today. We are accepting comments on the noncontiguous licensed premises regulations.
We are attempting to make permanent some of the things that have been temporary. Even under the statutes that have been mentioned they are temporary and are set to be decommissioned, for lack of a better word, at the end of February of 2024.
These regulations would allow for premises expansions under our normal system to be sought to keep those expanded premises permanent. And then rules that ABC will go by to allow those to become permanent established parts of the licensed premises footprint under the licensed premises when they’re not contiguous to the main licensed premises.
Because if they’re contiguous it’ll just be normally like we’ve always done.
But in the past, we haven’t — we’ve been hesitant to do these noncontiguous and, again, if you have any questions about why we’re doing this or how it all works, the document, the premises expansions initial statement of reasons, or ISOR, is the best way to look at this. This is our written comments about why we’re doing this, and it is in the chat.
If you haven’t — can’t see that, you can also request another one and Shelby is posting those again for those that have joined us recently.
Our next speaker is Mike Brewer; is that correct?
I will request for Mike to be unmuted, if I can find it.
I apologize, we’re working with this —
MR. BREWER: It appears that I am.
MR. DE RUYTER: Great. There you are.
MR. BREWER: Good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed regulation.
I’m Michael Brewer, I’m a consultant in the field on alcohol licensing and I’m an on sale and an off-sale licensee.
I wanted to take a moment to applaud the Department for coming up with a regulation to deal with noncontiguous patio or noncontiguous licensed areas. And I had submitted a written comment, but I also wanted to follow up with some oral comments as well.
I do agree with this area should be regulated and, you know, and have some thoughts. So generally I’m in favor of the regulation as proposed with a few caveats or potential amendments to the proposed regulation.
First, in area D(1)(a) I again, would want to encourage the Department to potentially come up with two scenarios. One in which a noncontiguous area is clearly visible from the interior of the primary licensed premises, and it would have a certain set of restrictions imposed in that situation as opposed to a patio that is not visible from the interior should be able to still be licensed but maybe have a more stricter set of monitoring requirements.
So that way we’re not excluding potential patio or noncontiguous areas that would be in close proximity to a particular licensed premises but not necessarily be visible.
For example, sometimes you have basement bars and yet up on the street they could have an outdoor patio area. Or sometimes the design of the building is such that the noncontiguous area is not visible because of the way — there’s no windows in that particular wall or there’s other kinds of situations in which the visibility is impacted but the proximity to the licensed premises is still relatively close.
So I would ask the Department to maybe consider designing the regulation to address both situations and maybe a stricter set of regulations for the later.
In addition to that, I do take exception to provision D(8) in the proposed regulation in which they don’t allow for any kind of a bar or service point to be installed in the noncontiguous area. In fact, I think that goes against the desires of the Department in by designing it that way because if you have a service area on the patio, one, it reduces the likelihood of alcohol being transversed from the restaurant to the patio.
In addition to that it keeps an employee or multiple employees on the patio observing what’s going on or the noncontiguous area of what’s going on. In fact, I licensed a couple of places in the state in which more or less would be designed as a — designated as a noncontiguous patio and or area and that was the primary service point, like the bar for that particular restaurant.
For example, in a mall I had a restaurant where in the center of the mall they had their patio or their outdoor — their noncontiguous area and that was their primary bar. And then you would go into the main dining area which was across the mall walkway of maybe 20 feet into the main restaurant of the building.
So the noncontiguous area served as the primary bar. It had a full bar installed, you know, it all met health department, sinks, the whole thing, and yet the restaurant dining area was in the interior.
So I would recommend that you consider revising the regulation D(8) to allow for situations for licensees to have the ability to serve alcoholic beverages on the noncontiguous area.
That way I think it would be more consistent with the goal of keeping strict supervision and the alcohol combined with it in the noncontiguous licensed area. For that I also support the other previous comments made by the California Restaurant Association and the organization out of San Francisco. I think they’re both quality associated groups and would echo their concerns as well.
Thank you for my time.
MR. DE RUYTER: Thank you again for your comments, Mr. Brewer.
Like I said, we are anticipating making adjustments to these regs based on comments we’ve received. We understand that at ABC we don’t — aren’t on the ground with all you all every day. And so we’ll try to fit these comments in and adjust the regs to better meet various needs that sometimes we didn’t think about here when we were creating this first reg.
This is why we have this public comment period and why a public comment period is so important for regulation, to make sure that everyone’s needs, and everyone’s voice is heard through this process. I believe we do not have anyone else signed up to comment currently.
If you would like to make a comment, feel free to raise your hand or contact Sarah Easter.
Also, again, you should have access to the premises expansion regulation language and the premises expansion initial statement of reasons in your chatbox. If you have any questions about what we are doing, there’s also the initial notice that has some other different things on our website that talks about some of the economic impact type things.
There’s not much for this type of regulation. But this is an important regulation.
We understand that, especially with the current temporary nature of a lot of these licensed premises that a lot of people put a lot of money and time and effort into over the past few years.
So again, there’s the link to our regulations rulemaking page. We have other regulations that are currently under public comment so, again, feel free to look at those as well.
And, like I said, we pretty much have a regulation open almost at all times these days with how much regulating we’ve been doing since COVID and everything else. Has anybody?
We do have somebody who’s request — okay. Looks like Sean Sullivan is up.
Let me see if I can unmute you or if you can unmute yourself.
It looks like you’re unmuted.
MR. SULLIVAN: Great. Thank you.
I just want to agree with the last couple of speakers that it is — that it would be great for these spaces to not have to have staff accompany customers with drinks and that it makes it costly for smaller bars and restaurants to have to do so.
And also, the point that was just made about having outside bars, that definitely would reduce the amount of staff cost for smaller spaces.
But I also want to say that these outdoor spaces for the last couple of years have really been a great opportunity for the customers to gather safely.
I want to push back on the notion that this was solely about economics.
And maybe that was done — that was the thought that was done at the time of these regulations. But this — the opportunity for people to gather and to do so safely and over alcohol was paramount to preserving many people’s mental health after an intense period of lockdown.
I manage an LGBT space, award winning space, in Oakland, California, and I can tell you for LBGTQ queer people that we learned that many were living with roommates, we’re living in an expensive area, so many people have to take on roommates and they were living — what I found out they were living with roommates or family who were not supportive of them.
And the opportunity for them to gather safely, once they could, when ABC made the regulations around to go and then dining out, this was a wonderful opportunity for them to gather safely in outdoor spaces.
And I would also offer that exposure for these LGBT oriented spaces to have that visibility on the street, it’s further affirming to people and so, I really want to thank ABC for that opportunity and the opportunity to continue this safely. And I yield the balance of my time.
MR. DE RUYTER: Again, thank you for your comments. We appreciate everyone being here and hearing from you’all, especially about how things affected during COVID.
We did have somebody’s hand raised, and the hand has now gone down.
If you want to interrupt and unmute yourself, feel free to do so.
I’m asking you to unmute now.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: Hi, I am a small business owner in Menlo Park.
I did move my business outside to parking spaces, taking over about three parking spaces, with permission from the city.
And what it definitely did was build a sense of continued community during COVID.
I’m in a position now with the city that until we know for sure what ABC is going to decide I may have to, of course, go back inside until I can get this permission from ABC to then go to the city to get things permanent.
I’m not sure — I haven’t completely read through the documents; I hope I’m not repeating or asking a question that doesn’t make sense.
But I do know that in order to get permission from the city I do need to know from ABC and, of course, I need to know that soon so that I can start to plan to make my space more permanent.
So I appreciate all of what you’re doing, and I hope you do know that with COVID we all are kind of starting over and rebuilding again, but the outside space has really helped me keep a community going.
So I’m grateful to anything you guys can do to make that happen.
So thank you.
MR. DE RUYTER: Thank you again for your comment.
Again, this is one reason why we kind of rushed these regs out this year even though they aren’t — the temporary spaces aren’t going to be expiring until February of 2024, because we want to be able to have these nailed down to allow everyone to act on them and not waste money making things permanent that won’t work.
And again, these regs are not final, there will be changes and we will notify everyone that is on our mailing list and post to our website when those changes are made, based on these comments. Because we weren’t able to do a lot of public meetings about this prior to the regulations being published because we wanted to speed up the process in order to make sure that these can be final well in advance of the temporary authorizations being revoked on March 1 of 2024.
So that everyone including the cities, including you all, and any stakeholders can make plans to make your spaces permanent or not.
I don’t believe we have any more comments or commenters that have said anything.
Feel free to raise your hand if using the Zoom application or contact Sarah Easter if you’d like to make a comment.
Otherwise we are about 40 minutes in. If no one has any other comments at this time I’m going to mute myself and take myself off camera in preparation and we will take a five-minute break at this point to allow everyone to take a break without public comment being done.
I’ll announce when we’re going to be back on during those five minutes.
If you’d like to make a comment afterwards, please let Sarah know or raise your hand.
MR. DE RUYTER: Thank you again for your comment.
(Off the Record)
MR. DE RUYTER: Good morning again everyone.
Thanks for letting us take a quick five-minute break.
It’s nice for us that are going to be here until 2:00. We continue to have no one here in person and I believe we still have no one that has requested to comment.
You can feel free to stay, feel free to go, I’m going to stay off camera and mute it until we have someone to give a comment. We’ll also be available through chat, so if you do want to make a comment feel free.
But everyone who has been in the Zoom room — oh, wait, we just had someone new.
So we are having people pop in and out of the Zoom meeting. Again the etiquette rules are on the screen about five minutes.
The fact that this is interactive, we’re taking public comments and we will respond in public, in writing, as far as the final statement of reasons we’ll also — when — which most likely are going to happen — changes to these regulations occur we will have another comment period on just those changes that are made that will go out. If you want to be notified of that please sign up for the subscribe button on the ABC webpage.
If anybody would like to speak, please notify Sarah Easter or raise your hand in the Zoom application.
Most people have been here since around 10:00 and so, we are assuming that most people that are here that want to speak have. If you are just here listening like we are, we’re going to go — I’m going to go off camera and on mute and await someone else to have a comment.
And, again, we are still available through chat, and we will be here until 2:00 p.m. We’re also accepting written comments to the RPU@ABC.ca.gov email address until 5 o’clock today.
(Assistant General Counsel on mute awaiting public comments.)
MR. DE RUYTER: We did have someone just join the Zoom.
We are here for taking comments at the noncontiguous licensed premises expansion regulation that was put out this year in response to allowing these noncontiguous areas to be made permanent, passed the temporary legislation has something until — it’s scheduled as of now to expire on March 1st of 2024.
We’ve had some more people come in. We are recording these comments and there will be a transcript posted to our webpage as well as responses to all these comments in the final statement of reasons.
We also will probably respond a little bit in some to during a regulation modification notification where we modify the regs and take further public comment on those modifications, probably towards the first of the year, to allow people to comment and not interrupt the holidays.
If there’s anyone that wants to make a comment, please notify Sarah Easter or raise your hand. You can also email comments. We are accepting email written comments until 5:00 p.m. today to the RPU@ABC.ca.gov email address that should be in the chat.
For those of you that are just arrived, if you don’t have any of these in chat, please let us know, we can follow up with you and give you all this information that we’ve been passing out throughout this hearing today.
And as of now it seems we don’t have anybody that wishes to make a public comment, so I’m going to go back off camera and on mute.
Again, you can notify us through chat for any questions that you have about this process and submit written or oral comments — and oral comments will be in this meeting until 2:00 and written comments can be to our regulations and policy email address until 5:00 p.m. today.
(Assistant General Counsel on mute awaiting public comments.)
MR. DE RUYTER: Good afternoon, we had a few people join us at the noon hour.
My name is Robert de Ruyter, I am the assistant general counsel here at ABC.
We’re here doing a public hearing on the noncontiguous licensed area regulations that were published a couple of months ago. The public comment period ends today at 5:00 p.m.
We are also here to take verbal comments until 2:00. We have no one currently that has requested to do any comments, so we are here patiently awaiting more comments.
If you have a comment that you would like to make feel free to raise your hand or contact Sarah Easter and we will get you unmuted so you can give your comment.
These comments will be part of the public record and they will be responded to in writing by the Department in its final statement of reasons.
We also anticipate there being changes to the regulations based on the comments received both in written form and received today. If you would like to be notified of those changes and participate in the next comment period on those changes, please sign up and subscribe to our mailing list at the link that Sarah just posted in the chatbox.
Thank you again for being here and for participating and for helping us to create a good regulation for all the citizens of California.
With that I’m going to go back off camera until we have someone that would like to give a comment.
(Assistant General Counsel on mute awaiting public comments.)
MR. DE RUYTER: Good afternoon, everyone. We’ve had a comment or a request.
I think it’s Myra, can you unmute yourself?
MS. JIMENEZ: Yes, can you hear me?
MR. DE RUYTER: Yes. Thank you.
Please — thank you for commenting.
MS. JIMENEZ: Sure, thank you.
So my name is Myra Jimenez.
So I’m calling on behalf of the California Alcohol Policy Alliance. And I’m really calling to emphasize our concern for public health and safety which is the work of our many — over 50 members that ally with us to support protecting the harmful practices of the alcohol industry all year round.
And so, I really wanted to emphasize, you know, coming back to ABC’s mandate for at large public health and safety around looking at the measures that are most appropriate to try and ensure the public safety is continuing to be upheld as we hear, you know, from small businesses and the business sector in general that obviously is benefitting financially from this type of deregulation.
We do want to kind of encourage ABC to continue to center public health and safety, public safety, as much as possible throughout this process.
We do have serious concern for the lack of capacity that the Department has to implement these regulatory measures.
We understand that there is over 93,000 licenses across the State of California and only about 211 sworn officers. We have heard from folks from the industry, business owners themselves, speak about encouraging flexibility around the regulatory measures.
However, we want to caution ABC to do this because we obviously do not see, as public health centered folks, we do not see that there is capacity to ensure the implementation of this and more standardized policy measures we feel would be most appropriate to protect the public as a whole at large.
We do not see that there — we do see that there is a challenge with, you know, in general oversight over these areas already since they are so specific in terms of the expanded footprint.
And the magnitude of resources that will be necessary to implement these types of regulatory measures and the demand that is being requested of the Department we want to, you know, appreciate the work that the Department has been doing in opening up this type of forum and we do want to stress that it is very important for us, as folks that are looking at prevention and looking at the impact on public health at large, that the implementation is beyond the capacity of the Department and that we understand that there are already a lot of challenges with enforcement and we do want to lean on the side of caution when it comes to implementing these measures.
We do want to highlight a few data points because we do often hear the business sector speak around the data and what validates this type of expansion of the consumption areas.
And during COVID, while of course we had the business sector that was very impacted. We also saw significant impact on public health when it comes to drinking and also mental health.
And we want to highlight that because it has been used as a justification for why these types of spaces are important while we do know that the World Health Organization has documented that during COVID-19 there was a 25 percent increase in prevalence of folks experiencing mental health worldwide.
This isn’t just something that is very localized. It’s a huge issue across the globe.
We’ve also seen that there was a 25.5 percent increase in alcohol related deaths across the country during the pandemic. So there was a lot of harm and a lot of increase in consumption and a lot of impact on communities during this time. And while of course the business sector suffered its losses, there was a lot of human capital that is being compromised in this expansion and this further deregulation of alcohol access in our neighborhoods and in our communities.
We already know that 18 percent of youth are still drinking more than marijuana and any other drugs, and this is according to alcoholic epidemiology research.
Forty plus years of research on public health. The type of environment that we’re looking to promote by continuing to allow for further expansion of the alcohol consumption space on public premises is something that is of huge concern to us in our coalition.
We also have huge concern and want to bring ABC to really recognize the red flags that we see when we have for-profit businesses promoting community and mental health through alcohol sales and how that is not something that is looking to promote the overall wellbeing of the community at large and it is very important to recognize that.
Alcohol is no ordinary commodity. We know that marketing and exposure is incredibly influential in consumption when it comes to place and promotion which is a huge piece of public health research that has been at the forefront of trying to protect communities beyond just the consumer themselves.
There are folks that don’t consume. We have children and parents and families that choose not to opt into these types of environments. So we really do want to encourage the Department to consider the type of a built-in environment that we’re contributing to in the long-term.
These types of regulatory measures sure may seem like a temporary support for establishments but this something that will impact generations when it comes to the legalities and the makeup and the way that governments are supporting the type of alcohol promotion and consumption on public premises. So we want to encourage ABC to lean on the side of public health and prevention as much as possible.
We understand that the for-profit sector, the business sector, is heavily advocating for their, you know, bottom line, but we do also need to make sure that this is public premises, this does impact folks that are not just those patrons of these businesses and establishments and that we continue to encourage other consideration for the rest of the public that will be impacted and lean on the side of public health and safety as much as possible because we do know what the opposing end is promoting.
So I appreciate your time and thank you so much for the opportunity.
MR. DE RUYTER: Thank you so much for your comments.
We again have no one waiting to comment at this time.
We are at close to 1 o’clock, which means we have another hour where this public meeting will be open to receive comments.
If anybody here would like to receive comments, please either raise your hand through the app or contact Sarah Easter. We’re again going to go off camera and mute while we await another commenter.
(Assistant General Counsel on mute awaiting public comments.)
MR. DE RUYTER: Hello, good afternoon, everyone still here.
It’s now 1:51, I think, and this meeting will close at 2:00, so we have nine more minutes if anybody would like to give a comment before we close.
If not, there’s still the ability to send us a written comment.
Sarah’s put that in the chatbox. Otherwise we will close this meeting at 2:00.
Thank you very much for being here and for participating in our public comment and we hope to send out the new adjusted regulations soon and follow up with our final statement of reasons response to all these comments at the close of this regulatory period.
Thank you very much.
Hopefully everyone has a great day.
(Assistant General Counsel on mute awaiting public comments.)
MR. DE RUYTER:The time is now 2 o’clock.
Thank you for those of you that sat through with us and for the entire time.
Again, this transcript will be posted to the website once it has been processed and we will do our responses to all comments through our final statement of reasons.
Also be aware of and subscribe for our update to the regs once that occurs and additional comment periods are done. Thank you, have a great day.
(End of recording)