San Jose considers liquor license restrictions

SAN JOSE, Calif.

There are 1,300 places to buy alcohol in San Jose and councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio believes that's enough.

"This would cut out stand alone liquor stores, this would cut out drugstores that also want to sell liquor, convenience marts, things of that matter," said Pierluigi.

The councilman supports a city staff proposal to issue new liquor licenses only to full-service grocery stores that offer fresh produce and healthy choices.

"That's the carrot to allow more grocery stores to open in these shopping centers where they have closed," he said.

On the corner of Prospect and Saratoga, there are two abandoned grocery stores -- a former PW Market and a former Safeway across the street. If passed the BevMo liquor store chain would not be able to occupy and provide 15 jobs in the building abandoned by the PW Market.

"We're trying to tell people the only place that you should be able to buy a bottle of wine is in a grocery store because we don't believe you're a responsible enough person," said councilmember Pete Constant, who believes the proposal abandons free market principals. "What it will do is discourage good reputable businesses -- businesses like BevMo, CVS, Walgreens -- responsible corporate citizens who come in and revitalize neighborhoods."

Off-camera, the owner of a liquor store says the proposal would eliminate any new competition. But his customers say it's a matter of choice.

"It's a bad thing, I think, because neighborhood stores are like family stores," said San Jose resident Robert Taravella.

The City Council will debate free market principals versus responsible government and vote on the issue by the end of the month.

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