Council members tackle alcohol sales and advertising

The Richmond City Council gave its preliminary approval last night to an ordinance to ban alcohol billboards near schools.

All council members were in favor of the ban, but it cannot be adopted until a second reading of the ordinance at the next meeting.

Later the council discussed appeals made to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) by local liquor stores.

Val Market (3630 Barrett Avenue) requested to extend operating hours beyond 11 p.m. Family Market (700 Pennsylvania Avenue) requested that it not be held to city restrictions on stores operating within 600 feet of schools.

Initially, Vice Mayor Corky Booze was in favor of extending Val Market’s hours. He said that the store did not create problems for the neighborhood with people hanging out and would give residents a late-night option on their way home. However, Council Member Jim Rogers and residents who spoke at the meeting said they were concerned about future loitering and the ability to transfer the permit new owners.

The council decided to write a letter to ABC objecting to changes in either markets’ permit. Neither establishment had anyone present at the meeting to represent their interests.

The last agenda item asked approval of a contract for public opinion survey research and polling services. Some members questioned if information could be gathered for less that the proposed $50,000.

“Why can’t the staff send out forms,” asked Council Member Nat Bates.

Council Member Jael Myrick said that it might be possible to reach more people if mailers were sent to every house instead of having the outside contractor interview 600 residents.

City Manager Bill Lindsay said mailing surveys would not render a statistically valid representation of the likely voters.

Council Member Tom Butts offered El Cerrito as an example. The city surveyed residents, found out how the constituents preferred to fund rebuilding the roads, and then made significant improvements.

The contract was approved.

The meeting adjourned. Attendees talked about how early it ended. “Wow,” said one woman, “it can be done.”  “It can be done,” a few others said.

Vice Mayor Booze said Tuesday’s meeting would move quickly and no one would be kicked out.

Fewer than 75 people attended the meeting, and all motions were passed unanimously. The meeting was over before 9:15 p.m.

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