Free Wine or Beer at Your Barber Shop or Beauty Salon?

Barber shop signCalifornia Assembly Bill 1322 would allow one complimentary 12 oz. beer or 6 oz. wine to be provided customers of beauty salons, barber shops, and similar businesses (e.g., nail salons, day spas, etc). Continue reading

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Found the perfect place for your business? How to check if zoning, ABC, or neighbors will mess you up!

Location, zoning, census tractMany people wanting to open a new business think they have found a perfect location only to find out that their proposed use is prohibited or subject to a difficult permitting process.  While that may seem conceptually obvious to most people, the existing uses in an area can be misleading to prospective new businesses.  Just because an area is full of commercial ventures doesn’t mean that the proposed business will be allowed.  Even if the area contains many of the same type of businesses, the new business may be prohibited or nearly impossible to open.  How can this be? Continue reading

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Does your jurisdiction have a Trader Joe’s exemption?

Trader Joe's coming soon bannerTrade Joe’s is so popular that laws are drafted to accommodate them while keeping out competitors, and communities swoon to receive them while staunchly opposing other businesses selling the same types of goods.  Continue reading

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Same but Different: The two laws even city planning staff confuse.


In a recent process, I represented a client in a matter in which the issue was whether the client’s use was grandfathered under the old municipal zoning code or whether more recent amendments applied to it.  Interestingly, municipal staff raised the granting of another alcoholic beverage license in the same census tract as a reason for why my client’s use might not qualify for grandfathering under the zoning.
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How to Start a Bar or Pub Without Becoming a Restaurant.

Bars - to have food or notMany entrepeneurs intent on opening a bar, nightclub, pub, cocktail lounge, live entertainment, or similar business  in California, which will include the availability of wine, beer, or spirits, are surprised to learn that their business plan is simply not allowed.  It may be particularly confusing for them because they may see other businesses in the area that engage, or seemingly engage, in just such a business.   They are told by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) or local authorities that their only option is to become a full service restaurant, with a full service kitchen, and which sells regular meals (not just sandwiches, salads, and “victuals”).  With so many other businesses seemingly selling alcoholic beverages without being restaurants, how can this be? Continue reading

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What does it mean to be ‘grandfathered’?


wpid-rps20141121_124028_777.jpgOne of the terms often used when it comes to land uses is “grandfathered.”  Generally speaking, the term refers to something  that would now be forbidden or illegal as a new use or activity but is allowed because the use, structure, or activity was instituted before it became illegal.  Accordingly, it is essentially a legal concept. However,
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Starting a Craft Brewery – The Regulatory Process, Part 2

Craft beers

Part 1 of this series discussed the State licensing process for establishing a brewery.  However, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“ABC”) will not issue a license until the applicant can show municipal or County zoning allows a brewery at the chosen location. Continue reading

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