BARSTOW — Councilwoman Carmen Hernandez requested City Attorney Teresa Highsmith to provide the City Council with information at its next meeting on how the city approves businesses that sell liquor.
During Monday's City Council meeting, Hernandez said she was concern about an article published in the Victor Valley Daily Press on Dec. 11 on the over saturation of liquor stores in Barstow. She was concerned about the article stating that the city received $3 million in liquor sales tax revenue during the past year.
According to city Spokesman Anthony Riley, the city received $3 million in annual taxable sales for liquor stores in the city. Sales tax revenue was actually $30,000.
"I don't want anyone to assume in discussion on how many liquor stores we have in this community because we are making all this money, because we are not," Hernandez said.
"My other primary concern is people are under the assumption that we just allow it because that is the way the article stated. That the planning commission approves and ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) allows businesses to open despite the rules regarding population," she said.
The Desert Dispatch did reach out to Riley on the phone in October requesting a meeting with a city official to discuss how liquor stores were approved during the past years. The phone conversation was backed up with an email on Nov. 4. No meeting ever took place.
City Councilman Richard Harpole did agree to an interview with the Desert Dispatch for the article.
"You look at our population and how many stores we have, we are way over-saturated," Harpole was quoted in the Dec. 11 article. "The store may have been there a very long time, but every time there is a new owner, they get a new license."
On Monday, Harpole said he wanted to piggyback on the remarks made by Hernandez.
"Thirty-thousand dollars from liquor stores doesn't come anywhere close to covering the costs of the negative impact of the over-saturation of liquor stores in this community," he said.
Mike Lamb can be reached at 760-957-0613 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter@mlambdispatch.