San Francisco Granted First New Liquor Licenses In 77 Years

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – For the first time in almost 80 years, San Francisco is getting new liquor licenses from the state. But the neighborhoods getting those precious licenses may surprise you.

When you think of nightlife in San Francisco, the Sunset typically isn’t considered one of the city’s hot spots.

“Friends wouldn’t necessarily come out here unless we’re going to hang out just at our place or something like that,” Sunset resident Josh Longnecker told KPIX 5.

“It would be nice to have options in terms of nightlife.”

Problem is, San Francisco has reached its cap on liquor licenses, until now.

State Sen. Mark Leno and city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development got a law passed to help areas identified as needing an economic and social boost.

“The idea was to create a new kind of liquor license which is neighborhood specific and non-transferable meaning when the business goes out of business it can’t be sold,” Leno said.

Ben Van Houten of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development said, “This is the first of its kind in California, it’s built off a successful program in Boston.”

San Francisco will get a chance to issue five new liquor licenses to restaurants, the first new licenses in 77 years.

Before this new legislation, one major barrier for local neighborhood restaurants to get a liquor license is they have to buy one from a previous owner. And because of high demand, it would cost them up to $300,000.

“There are brokers, there are even some unscrupulous landlords in the deal who try to take these liquor licenses,” said Gwyneth Bolden, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

If approved, the new liquor license would only cost $14,000 to apply.

Only new or existing restaurants along Noriega and Taraval streets in the Sunset, Ocean Avenue in Ingleside, the Excelsior, Bayview, Portola and Visitacion Valley neighborhoods are eligible.

Originally the city asked the state for 28 new licenses, four for each of the targeted neighborhoods, but the state decided on five.


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