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Legislation requiring greater liquor storeowner responsibility for illegal sidewalk activity survives challenge

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell authored the liquor store responsibility ordinance
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy

March 8, 2006

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell yesterday beat back a milder version of her proposed requirement for liquor storeowners to call the police when they see criminal activity on their sidewalks.

Amendments to the Maxwell ordinance submitted by Supervisor Fiona Ma lowered owner responsibility to that already required by State regulation, Maxwell said.

Ma explained amendments rationale.

"They separate activities inside the store from those outside the store," Ma told colleagues in the Tuesday meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

"The purpose is to hold the owner responsible for activities that happen in his or her store where they have the best control over the premises.

"In terms of the sidewalk, we'll hold owners responsible for those activities they can safely address such as litter, proper lighting, and graffiti.

"I continue to believe it is unreasonable to ask them to put themselves in harm's way. Addressing crime in our City is the responsibility of the Police Department and other law enforcement - not business owners.

"I would also remind colleagues that the Small Business Commission unanimously opposes this legislation," added Ma.

Maxwell retorted those amendments already are required by State regulation and questioned political motivation.

"All of the things that have just been mentioned... the store owners are already responsible for under the ABC (California Alcohol Bureau of Control) regulations," stated Maxwell.

"So my question is, then, what legislative agenda are you trying achieve here?

Liquor storeowners are not required to intervene or call the police if owners believe their safety would be jeopardized under the Maxwell ordinance, the District 10 supervisor noted.

"If they are already responsible for the outside within 20 feet - they are responsible for nuisances, they are responsible for drunkenness, for prostitution, for all of those things from the ABC - we are just bringing this (responsibility) locally.

"What we are saying here is that if they feel that their lives are in jeopardy then they do not need to call.

"If they feel that their safety is in jeopardy we are recognizing that.

"We are not asking them to do anything that they do not already have to do according to the ABC.

"What you are doing here is watering down what is already there. You are making ours less restrictive.

"Why would you do that?"

Board of Supervisor President Aaron Peskin provided an answer.

"I think it's called politics," interjected Peskin.

The Arab storeowner network is a well funded association.

And Ma, a former aide to political heavyweight John Burton, is a candidate for the California Assembly District 12 seat.

Ma recently hired Bill Barnes as legislative aide, who formerly held the same position with Supervisor Chris Daly.

Daly withheld his endorsement of progressive candidate Jeff Adachi in Adachi's successful race for San Francisco Public Defender against Burton's daughter.

Supervisor Chris Daly

Daly, representing the heavily liquor store populated District 6, told the Sentinel he refused Adachi's requested endorsement in order not to jeopardize Daly's relationship with Burton.

Only Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Daly joined Ma in supporting Ma amendments.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick is out of town due to a visit to London's Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval absented himself from the Board floor during final vote.




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