LAKEWOOD - Convenience store owners seeking a permit to sell alcohol might have to wait up to two years to get one, after the City Council's passage Tuesday night of a temporary moratorium on alcohol beverage permits.
The ordinance, approved unanimously and begins immediately, would only affect convenience stores and other small establishments under 6,500 square feet that apply for new alcohol beverage permits.
It wouldn't affect restaurants or facilities that serve alcohol on the premises.
The city passed the moratorium because officials are concerned about a potential over-concentration of convenience store-type businesses selling alcohol, said Councilman Todd Rogers.
"We're not saying that there's a proliferation of these mom and pop operations," Rogers said, adding that he wants to investigate before approving any new permits.
Lakewood, with a population of about 80,600, has 28 licenses that allow the sale of beer and wine at convenience stores, according to city officials. Alcoholic Beverage Control Department recommends a maximum of 32 for a city of Lakewood's size.
During the moratorium, the city will study possible changes to zoning regulations and development standards for future stores, including location and security requirements. The study will include reviewing what other area cities do, said City Attorney Steve Skolnik.
The moratorium will initially last 45 days, but will almost certainly be extended another 10 months and 15 days, as allowed by state law, since the city won't be able to complete its findings in that short a time, Skolnik said.
The ordinance also could be extended another year for a total of two years, Skolnik said.
Officials' concerns were raised last month when the council considered an alcohol beverage permit for a proposed 7-Eleven store at the corner of Bellflower and Del Amo boulevards.
The council denied that permit.
In other council actions Tuesday, the council approved an agreement with Arcadia Publishing Co. to produce - at no cost to the city - a book of historic Lakewood photographs. The book would be available in time for the city's 60th anniversary in April 2014 and would be sold by Arcadia for $25 each.
Lakewood's Don Waldie has been compiling the photographs and will be writing the book's text.