Downtown Councilman Wants to Ease Liquor License Restrictions

As San Jose city officials push for a more vibrant downtown, Councilman Raul Peralez wants to expand the number of businesses allowed to sell alcohol.

In a recently released memo, Peralez asks that the city create criteria for, “on-premise alcohol sales for both crime index and undue concentration in the Downtown Entertainment Zone.” According to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control, a business’ license can be denied if it would create a problem for law enforcement or would add to an “undue concentration” of licenses in the area.

According to the state, the crime index and undue concentration means:

  • The applicant is in a crime reporting district with a 20 percent greater number of crimes than the average number of crimes in all reporting districts in a law enforcement agency’s jurisdiction.
  • The ratio of on-sale retail licenses-to-population in the tract where the applicant is outnumbers the ratio of on-sale retail licenses-to-population in the county where the applicant is located.

But while cities may have some restrictions from the state as to how many liquor licenses they give out, they also have the power to determine if the public would be better served by handing out a license. That’s what Peralez wants to do with these new criteria.

“Downtown is currently in a renaissance of exciting food and entertainment concepts, with more potential businesses looking to plant roots in,” Peralez wrote. “However, blanket state policies have constrained our police department from being able to permit these projects when their professional input is requested by either the planning department or Alcoholic Beverage Control.”

Eddie Truong, the director of government and community relations at the Silicon Valley Organization, said that this is something that San Jose should have been looking at some time ago. The SVO is the region’s largest chamber of commerce and represents around 1,200 local businesses.

“Many small businesses, particularly restaurants, struggle with the number of sales and getting enough foot traffic into the restaurant,” he said.

Truong adds that many years ago the city prepared for a denser and more urbanized downtown in its general plan. But many restaurants have been struggling in recent years, including San Jose icon Original Joe’s, which closed its lunch time service this year largely because of the new minimum wage. “It makes sense for us to look at the whole set of regulations to increase pedestrian foot traffic,” he said. “I think of this as the natural evolution as we urbanize the downtown core.

Rick Jensen of the San Jose Downtown Association said that they also support the initiative, adding that Peralez is “uniquely qualified” to add his input because of his background as a police officer. “The issue is that police are bound to reject applications for liquor licenses based solely on location,” Jensen said. “Some rules and guidelines needs to change to welcome business, welcome restaurants, welcome night life and welcome more customers coming downtown.”

But while Peralez wants to give officials more “flexibility” when giving out liquor licenses, he’s also not looking to have a negative impact on the downtown area.

“Let us be clear,” he wrote in his memo. “We are not asking for the flood gates to open and allow Downtown to suddenly become the wild west of bars and night clubs. On the contrary, SJPD should continue to exercise their professional opinion when scrutinizing a potential operation.”

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase.

16 Comments

  1. What are you doing Raul?! So many issues in our city, and you focus on this bs? More alcohol in a city already struggling with rising crime and homelessness?! The police are already slow to respond to crime in the downtown area where we LIVE! You don’t even show up for neighborhood meetings when asked… even though some of us misguidedly helped you to get elected! Big mistake!

  2. Peralez, easier access to liquor has nothing to do with being more vibrant! On the contrary, alcohol consumption is a threat to your physical and emotional health. I would like to know how our San Jose youths have easy access to alcohol now. You want to make this access easier for them?

  3. A couple of weeks ago on a Saturday night I went to downtown to pick up someone that was too impaired to drive home. The San Pedro Square scene around Santa Clara Street at midnight was like a zoo of twenty something year olds amassing in the streets and trying to cross at signal lights. All of the while electric scooters whizzed by. It was as if a concert had just let out. But it was this little area called San Pedro Square. I talked to the parking attendant at the Market Street Garage to let me pass without a five dollar parking fee as I was just picking up someone. But what a zoo compared to 20 years ago when I sometimes enjoyed the downtown experience. But today it is entirely over crowded with people definitely not watching where they are going and being in the moment and as well of course impaired. It seemed unsafe for vehicles as well as pedestrians. High concentrations of bars in any one area is a mistake.

  4. “Original Joe’s, which closed its lunch time service this year largely because of the new minimum wage”

    Is this true? Lunch was always dead regardless of the minimum wage. I used to go to the hideout bc it was quiet and still felt classier than sitting at a coffee shop for lunch. That’s just not running an effective shift then saying “well if we could pay our people less than a living wage then we could keep the service open despite ineffective marketing”.

  5. I am very disappointed in Raul. I live in his district where we have bars and too many liquor stores and I am always emailing him about the crime on my street due to these bars that can open at 6 a.m. and close at 2 a.m. When we call the police because of the noise and fights they cannot respond because they are too busy. Sometimes you cannot get through dispatch because of the number of calls they received. Last night my neighborhood was on lock down and the helicopter police were announcing everyone to stay inside. The previous week at 4 p.m. police were on my street chasing suspects who fled and were hiding at my neighbor’s house, car wash and market.

    I would like some data as to how many licenses we already have, area being talked about, number of police we have to cover his district, population of his district(don’t forget all the development downtown) and what number of increases is he talking about. In addition, how many drug stores do we have downtown, supermarkets, cleaners, breweries, wine shops etc. Seems we need more service type businesses than another restaurant that can turn into a bar once a license is issued. On another note, it would be nice to have data on how many restaurants with licenses have failed in the past three years. Let Google sell liquor if these people are demanding to get high.

  6. Sorry to sound off again, but once a liquor license is approved and the business fails or gets in trouble they can sell the license to a relative and continue. This is very important to know. So if you have a business that is forced to close down they just sell their license to someone and the problems continue. You can check with the Alcohol and Beverage Control office downtown about this fact. It is so hard to close someone down.

    • You have two actions to take into your hands Aurelia: One: work on passing a measure countywide so these licenses won’t be transferable anymore. Two, work in your district si they will vote Raul out in next election!

      • Raul terms out. He ran unopposed last election. After covering up slavery and trafficking. He will be a candidate for mayor under the Ronnie gonzo the clown (former mayor) crew from Cupertino.

    • Thank you for this post! I live downtown, and own a home. Why would Raul believe alcohol is the key to attracting business downtown?!? Total garbage.

      Maybe he and the other useless politicians should start focusing on the homeless issue AND SOLUTIONS so that people will want to visit downtown in the first place.

      • Strong agreeement on the homeless issue — getting these people into drug rehab should be priority 1,2 and 3 for the city. We need to reexamine 5150 holds when people are picked up many times and have drugs in their system.

  7. Downtown is not safe…. Meth heads are smoking TOXIC Dope that is making them go crazy (see my YouTube Channel) The days of the typical tweaker are long gone in Santa Clara County.

    Raul…. Wake up and listen to the screams in your District…. Your coworkers in Law Enforcement are feed up of this disaster and you are a no show to most of the committees (County wide) that need your involvement. It’s not just your constituents that need you to ‘SHOW UP’ its your employees that are suffering the effects of this Zombie outbreak. They have to “Bob and Weave” as they fight an uphill battle just to get a cup of coffee during their break at City Hall.

    I talk with these people a lot and they think Raul is a joke, same with San Jose Mayor “Stinky” Sam Liccardo. They cannot even keep their “Front Yard” clean… and all the businesses downtown have had to hire private security because our city cannot get their act together.

    We need police officers walking the street all the time downtown. Make the public feel safe. We are outnumbered 20 to 1 by the meth head zombies….

    Business owners are feed up of this and want to leave (I have been interviewing them and the feedback is RAW)

    The fruit does not fall fare from the tree…. Raul’s attendance sucks just like San Jose Deputy Police Chief Shawny “No Show” Williams. They only show up for picture day and Federal Grant Funding requests…. That’s it…. And from the sound of the comments on this article, he is also a no show to community meetings. But he is front and center when its time to travel abroad on the American Taxpayers Dime….

    I attend almost every meeting City, County and State in regards to this massive humanitarian crisis that is happening in plain sight. I don’t see Raul at any of these meetings. I have only seen him once downtown walking to lunch. That’s it…. I thought politicians like this where supposed to have their thumb on the pulse of their community? Is he too scared to walk the streets of his own district? I thought he was a reserve police officer? Maybe he only feels safe when he is packing heat? We don’t get a security detail for venturing thru downtown (We need it)

    Politicians like this think they get a free pass to just turn a blind eye after they are elected.

    Please take the opportunity to see what Raul’s district is really like on my YouTube page (Scott Largent) Its real-life folks and it is worse here than in San Francisco… San Jose is Dying…

    Sample video below of a Downtown park in Raul’s District that has been taken over by Meth Zombies. Children are rarely even seen playing at this park…. Great Job San Jose Councilman Raul Peralez….. District 3 looks like a Third World Country…..

  8. This is what the public has to deal with San Jose Councilman Raul Peralez (see Video below) Maybe you should start showing up to meetings that involve the REAL problems in your district…. It’s not all about Google…. seems like these shady politicians are putting all their eggs in one basket…. Google or nothing??

  9. This one is Sad….. This man is dangerous Raul Peralez (Dumpster 3 Councilman) and just wanders your district in search of his next HI…. He was “somewhat” normal about a year ago, but without any real help, he has turned into a Unpredictable Meth Zombie… I wonder who will be his next victim?

    This man was taken to the Psych Ward for less then 8 hours and releases back on the streets. Just this one incident must have cost Tax Payers over 30 grand…. Do the math…. with the response, vehicles, salary, insurance, doctors, medics, cops, fireman, etc. That’s would be the cost to send this man to drug rehab….a nice one…. this is what’s called Tax Payer Waste….

    The public should be pissed off that the leaders in power just ignore that San Jose is Dying.

    This is Raul Parelez’s (Dumpster 3 District) and also Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez’s sand box… point the finger in the right direction…

    • Scott,

      I agree there has been a spike in hard drug use in our district, but we should not assume that every homeless person is a “zombie meth tweaker”. Many have legitimate mental health issues. A friend lives in the St. James Park area and noticed a very sudden spike in hard drug users. She is also a mental health professional and posited that maybe these people have been bussed in from elsewhere. Either way, Roosevelt Park is also inundated with homeless and drug users—- right under the nose of Liccardo and the offices of government officials! I too have attended community meetings addressing these issues. We are sick of the bs downtown, and Raul is doing NOTHING.

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