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Goleta City Council Gives Approval for First Gas Station to Sell Liquor

Fuel Depot on Fairview Avenue already sells beer and wine but wants a new license classification

The Goleta City Council on Tuesday gave its blessing to a proposal by the Fuel Depot at 180 N. Fairview Ave. to become the first gas station in the city to sell hard alcohol.
The Goleta City Council on Tuesday gave its blessing to a proposal by the Fuel Depot at 180 N. Fairview Ave. to become the first gas station in the city to sell hard alcohol. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

For the first time ever, Goleta residents may soon be able to buy liquor at a gas station within the city limits.

The Goleta City Council on Tuesday gave approval to the Fuel Depot at 180 N. Fairview Ave. to sell liquor in addition to beer and wine, voting 3-1 in favor of the gas station and convenience store obtaining the proper liquor license to do so.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Farr voted no because he worried the decision would set a bad precedent, and Mayor Paula Perotte was absent.

Council members were tasked with determining whether the issuance of a license served public convenience or necessity, and their recommendation will be forwarded to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for a final determination.

Along with approval, officials asked that staff bring all future proposed liquor license changes before the council.

Fuel Depot owner John Price is asking the ABC to issue a Type 21 license for off-site consumption at a retail establishment instead of its current Type 20, which allows sale of beer and wine only.

All Goleta gas stations that sell alcohol hold the Type 20 license, and staff said only two gas stations on the South Coast — Fuel Depots on the Mesa and on Carrillo Street, both owned by Price — have the Type 21 license.

There are 19 establishments with Type 20 licenses and 15 with Type 21 licenses in Goleta, for a total of 34 businesses selling alcohol for off-site consumption.

Price said he’s planning on expanding his Fairview Road location, and obtaining the new license was one way to bring in more money.

Councilman Roger Aceves asked whether Price’s Fuel Depots have had problems such as selling to minors, etc.

“In 38 years, we’ve never had tobacco or liquor violations,” Price said, noting an employee-training program and new equipment that soon will let cashiers scan a driver’s license to check its authenticity. “We also have a policy on loitering.”

What type of alcohol someone drinks isn’t the issue, Councilman Michael Bennett said, so much as how responsible that person is while consuming it.

One public speaker questioned whether the council fully examined the heart of the task. He cited ABC materials, which stated an area could limit the number of off-sale licenses issued based on population or on the U.S. Census Tract where the business is located.

Based on Goleta’s population, the ABC determined the number of total licenses was sufficient concentration to support the population — one for every 2,500 people (Type 20) and one for every 1,250 people (Type 20 or 21).

The Census route showed Fuel Depot created an over-concentration of licenses because it’s so close to Albertson’s, CVS, Nikka Japanese Market, Trader Joe’s and Walgreens.

“I don’t see convenience as an issue here,” Farr said.

Bennett countered that liquor licenses are hard to come by, so the city wouldn’t see an influx in these types of requests.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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