FAQ

What is a Conditional Use Permit (CUP)?

It is a discretionary permit that is required by many cities throughout California in order to sell alcohol within their community. A conditional use permit authorizes land uses (such as alcohol sales) that are allowed and encouraged by the ordinance and declared harmonious with the applicable zoning district. Land use is governed by regulations generally known as zoning codes, which are authorized by the state’s zoning enabling law. Within the ordinance is a list of land use designations commonly known as zoning. Each different type of zone has its own set of allowed uses. These are known as by-right uses. Then there is an extra set of uses known as special uses. To operate a business that is listed as a conditional use, a conditional use permit must be obtained. This process grants discretion to the local zoning authority to ensure that an acceptable land use does not disrupt the zoning scheme because of its particular location.

What is a PCN determination?

ABC applications for Alcohol License Types 20, 21, 40, 42, 48 and 57 in census tracts that are either over-concentrated or high crime (over 120% of city averages) require a determination of Public Convenience or Necessity (PCN). ABC delegates the authority to make the determination to local municipalities. The process for this determination varies from city to city and often times public hearings are required. PCN determinations are discretionary like CUPs.

How long does it take to process a CUP?

It varies  from city to city, but most of the time 3 to 4 months from the time the application is submitted. Though, in some larger cities or counties it can take 6 – 9 months.

What are the fees for processing use permits or PCNs?

For most projects, Clients pay a flat fee. Also, most of the fees are due at the end of the project. This fee structure is very helpful for client budgeting and gives assurances that applications are being processed in a timely manner

Can a CUP be required, but not a PCN determination?

Yes. A requirement for a CUP is based on a local ordinance and a PCN is based on census tract data and crime rates. Sometimes a PCN is required, but no CUP; and other times a CUP is required but no PCN….and sometimes both are required. Though, it is worth pointing out that many census tracts that encompass commercially zoned properties are over concentrated as that is where cities want retail stores to locate.