Escondido is considered a “moratorium city” by the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the agency responsible for issuing new liquor licenses. Since 2011, a five-year plug has been placed on the issuance of any new liquor licenses in Escondido. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped businesses from applying for them.
The owners of the AM/PM Arco station on the southwest corner of Mission and North Broadway applied for an off-site liquor sales license transfer on January 10, 2014.
Because Escondido is a moratorium city, the gas-station owner-operators (Aaron Brown, Harry Brown, and Lawrence Kouric) attempted to buy the existing license of a now-defunct restaurant in the Lake Wohlford area of Escondido.
Technically, the applied-for license is not considered new — which circumvents state law — it would have been a legal transfer.
On October 15 of last year, after a nine-month-long investigation, the ABC denied the application.
Thirteen citizens submitted letters of protest to the ABC during a 30-day open-comment period in early 2014. Escondido chief of police Craig Carter, a 21-year department veteran, wrote a personal appeal to the ABC not to issue the license.
The investigation found 16 liquor licensees located within 1000 feet of the AM/PM Arco station, including two other gas stations with convenience stores and four major grocery stores, when the maximum number of licenses is supposed to be 3 (based on the population of the 2010 U. S. census).
Nevertheless, the gas station owners/applicants recently appealed the ABC decision to deny the transfer of the liquor license. On February 9, an appeals hearing was announced for April 22 (at 9:30 a.m.) at the ABC's district office, located at 570 Rancheros Drive (suite #240) in San Marcos.
Disclaimer: The author is one of the thirteen residents who submitted protests to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Nine of the thirteen protesters have addresses at Casa Escondida, a privately owned senior-citizen complex with over 500 residents, many of whom are confined to wheelchairs or are visually impaired. The residence home sits within 250 feet to the south of the AM/PM gas station, on the same side of the street.