You may recall back in March how we learned of Supervisor David Campos's push to loosen Planning guidelines and the 17-year-old moratorium on certain types of liquor licenses in the Mission. One reason that so few new restaurants have been able to open with full bars in the Mission in the last few years is because of this same moratorium, but the thrust behind the changes is in the interest of letting small neighborhood markets sell beer and wine, which they were not able to do before.
The moratorium dates back to 1996, when the Mission neighborhood was markedly different and there was a concern about the proliferation of small stores selling booze. The result in the current market, however, is that small mom-and-pop businesses are losing business to larger stores that are permitted to sell alcohol.
The new rules, sponsored both by Supervisors Campos and Wiener, would allow such stores under 5,000 square feet to now devote up to 15% of their floor space to alcohol sales, and there are some limits on the sizes and types of beer containers allowed.
Also, the new rules would make restaurants moving into former retail spaces a big concern on Valencia Street after the restaurant boom years of 2011 and 2012 apply for conditional use permits with Planning, which is something we thought they already had to do.
Restaurants replacing other restaurants would not have to do this. And under the new rules, the restrictions would be lifted for "certain arts uses," which means that there may soon finally be beer and wine at the Roxie Cinema, as they've hoped to have for several years. As Wiener puts it, the moratorium, "while well-intentioned, led to unintended consequences and prevented, delayed, or undermined great businesses - whether a bowling alley, art space, movie theater, or craft beer venue - in this neighborhood."
The old rules also froze liquor licenses in place, which created "clustering" and disallowed them from being transferred within the district, and the new rules will allow that movement to occur, hopefully bringing full bars to some restaurants that didn't have them before.
The legislation was introduced at last week's Board meeting and will need to be approved by the Land Use Committee and come back to the Board and Mayor for final approval, which will likely not happen for several months.