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    San Jose Gas Stations to Sell Alcohol and Food

    City council repeals 20-year old rule, but imposes strict guidelines.

    SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose City Council voted Tuesday to officially allow the sale of alcohol at gas stations, repealing a 20-year-old ban on food and alcohol sales, reported San Jose’s Mercury News . The 6-1 vote came after two years of debate among station owners who wanted to add mini-marts.

    The decision allows newer stations to capture a part of the food and alcohol business that only a handful of older stations offered until now.

    "What you have before you is probably one of the strictest sets of rules in the state," said Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez, who on Tuesday offered a memo spelling out dozens of conditions that officials could impose on businesses seeking permits to sell alcohol, according to the report.

    The council approved Chavez's memo, but asked staff members to come back with tougher rules to respond to residents' complaints of public drunkenness, noise, litter and blight, according to the report.

    The issue originally focused on allowing gas stations to sell food, beer and wine, but grew into a study of all "off-sale" outlets -- those at which customers buy alcohol but don't drink it on the premises. While only the state can grant liquor licenses, city officials can maintain some control over sales by requiring special permits based on land-use and public safety principles, the report stated. City officials also could grant exceptions if the outlet would be a convenience to residents in an under-served populations or would revitalize a commercial area.

    The rules proposed in the memo gives commissioners the ability to impose such restrictions as banning "single-can" sales of alcoholic beverages or limiting the hours and types of alcohol sold. They can also impose security measures and regulate the design of areas devoted to alcohol sales, Mercury News reported.

    Additionally, businesses can be required to provide training for employees on rules for alcohol sales.

    The ordinance sets up an inspection program to be paid for by the businesses through an annual fee of $287.

    Businesses not following the rules will also have to pay a $70.52 re-inspection fee, according to the report.

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