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Long Beach may allow alcohol sales at boardwalk concessions

Beach Local Cafe on the Long Beach boardwalk

Beach Local Cafe on the Long Beach boardwalk at Grand Boulevard, seen Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, has requested permission to serve alcoholic beverages. Credit: Jeff Bachner

The Long Beach City Council will vote Tuesday whether to allow some businesses to sell alcohol at restaurants on the boardwalk.

City Council members will consider amending the city’s code lease agreements for some businesses that want to serve limited alcohol at concessions stands that serve food.

The city leased newly built concessions stands to four restaurants last year to serve food on the boardwalk. City officials said, so far, two of the businesses, Beach Local Cafe and Rip Tides, have requested the city also allow alcohol to be served.

The proposed city resolution would allow business owners to seek a license from the state liquor authority and then apply for the city to amend its lease to serve alcohol. The regulations would not allow alcohol to be sold on the beach or outside the concessions stands.

“The city shall have the authority to issue such rules regulating attendant quality-of-life issues associated with concession stand service of alcoholic beverages, as it deems fit,” the proposed resolution states.

Business owners and alcohol prevention groups are divided on the proposed resolution, which they say could change the image of the boardwalk since it was rebuilt in 2013 after superstorm Sandy.

Chamber of Commerce board member Jamie Lynch said the chamber has endorsed the proposal and came forward to support businesses after there was opposition from the drug and alcohol prevention group Long Beach Aware.

“I think the majority of people think it’s a good idea. These are not bars, they’re restaurants. It’s a very conservative approach,” Lynch said. “Nobody wants to see the Jersey Shore. When the city went to do the boardwalk over, people wanted restaurants. People want to have a drink and watch the sunset.”

Long Beach Aware executive director Judi Vining said her group is opposed to adding more liquor-serving establishments in the city, which she fears will contribute to underage drinking.

She said there are 90 establishments in the city where alcohol can be purchased and 68 percent of Long Beach high school students reported in a 2015 survey that they drank alcohol.

“This is one of the only areas where you have local control by allowing alcohol on city property,” Vining said. “The beach is our nucleus and where everyone goes for a healthy environment. I’m concerned of the message we’re sending to kids that you can’t go on the boardwalk without a drink in hand.”

Beach Local Cafe owner Sean Sullivan said he has proposed strict conditions for serving alcohol at his restaurant on the boardwalk, including restricted hours and not promoting alcohol in boardwalk concessions.

“It’s really about dinnertime. At that time of day, the sun sets, and who doesn’t want to have something to drink with dinner,” Sullivan said. “I think we’ve gone out of our way to work with community groups and address their concerns. Nobody’s looking to have a bar. We just want to have a proper dinner.”

The City Council will hold the public hearing as part of its meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. on the sixth floor of Long Beach City Hall.

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