In the interest of protecting surrounding neighborhoods from noise and possible drunk drivers, La Cañada Flintridge City Council members want to limit the hours that customers can buy alcohol from stores.
On a 3-2 vote, the council on Monday directed staff to amend a zoning ordinance to require off-sale establishments, which include liquor and grocery stores, to stopping selling alcohol at midnight.
Currently, only one store sells alcohol past midnight in the city: The 24-hour 7-Eleven Liquor at 1535 Foothill Blvd. The proposal would not affect restaurants that serve alcohol.
Mayor Laura Olhasso said the city had received complaints from residents about stores that stay open late, attracting customers who loiter and create noise. Limiting the hours that stores can sell alcohol is "appropriate" for the community, she said.
"I just don't see any reason why we need to sell alcohol after midnight," she said. "If someone wants to buy alcohol after midnight, they can wander down the street to La Crescenta or Glendale."
Councilman Donald Voss said he did not see evidence of late-night stores causing an issue in the city. A staff report showed that five alcohol-related incidents occurred after midnight in the city in the past two years, including reports of individuals who were driving under the influence or drunk in public.
Those few incidents "didn't strike me as a big deal," said Voss. Councilman Jonathan Curtis agreed with Voss.
Councilmen Dave Spence and Michael Davitt were in favor of setting a new standard for how late residents can buy alcohol in the city.
"I think it shows that we are concerned about local residents getting alcohol in our city," said Spence. "If they want to get it in another city, that's fine. But I think it shows that we are trying to show the younger children and the people who are 21 and older that we are conservative in this city."
Senior Planner Fred Buss confirmed that only one store currently sells liquor past midnight. But the proposal could set a standard for new businesses and others who might want to change their hours, he said. "With this ordinance on the books, everyone would be on notice there is a limit to sell alcohol."
The proposal will come back to the City Council at a future meeting.