Planning commission to discuss alcohol serving establishments along Coast Highway

Planning commission to discuss alcohol serving establishments along Coast Highway
The Planning Commission will receive a report Thursday pertaining to liquor license requests from alcohol-serving establishments throughout the corridor. File photo

ENCINITAS — More than 80 businesses along Coast Highway 101 between Leucadia and Cardiff-by-the-Sea have permits of some kind to serve alcohol, according to a city staff report.

The City Planning Commission requested the staff report in response to a series of recent recommendations by the Sheriff’s department pertaining to liquor license requests in Leucadia, which prompted questions about the perceived inconsistency of those recommendations.

The Sheriff’s department in May recommended that the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control deny a request made by a social club in Leucadia to serve alcohol, claiming that there was an over-saturation of such establishments in the census tract where it was located.

It was the first time in recent memory that the Sheriff’s department protested a local liquor license request.

Several months later, the Sheriff’s department endorsed a request for a minor use permit by a tasting room not far from the social club.

This prompted Planning Commissioner Tasha Boerner Horvath to request a report on the alcohol-serving establishments throughout the corridor, to ensure the city would be consistent with its determinations, as there are other businesses in the city’s planning pipeline with requests for permits to serve alcohol.

Boerner Horvath said she was surprised at the number of businesses that had permits to sell alcohol, but said she wanted staff to provide additional information, such as the hours of operation of the sites and whether some had permits but actually did not sell alcohol, which could change the complexion of the number of permits when looking at it in a more nuanced fashion.

“It does make transparent how many alcohol serving establishments we have, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a problem,” she said. “It means that we need to be thoughtful about what types of businesses are compatible with our coastal neighbors, looking at hours, the types of businesses and things that the business owners do. Hopefully it is a very constructive conversation to have.”

The report shows that the largest concentration of establishments — which includes restaurants that serve alcohol, liquor stores, bars, tasting rooms and other establishments — is in Old Encinitas, where there are 43 on-site an off-site businesses. Leucadia has 22 and Cardiff-by-the-Sea has 18.

The Planning Commission will receive the report, which isn’t an action item on the agenda so no action will be taken at its Thursday meeting.

But the commission could request that staff return with additional information or recommendations for standards for approval of future permits to eliminate inconsistencies in recommendations.

The report also shows that calls for police and sheriff’s services at the establishments has declined since 2014, when the department received 91 calls for service, to 88 in 2015 to 70 this year through Oct. 31.

The business with the most calls for service was Dukes Cardiff Office with nine and the Kraken bar in Cardiff with seven.

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