A prospective Idyllwild business was on the agenda for the Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting last week. The board was being asked to “…make a determination of public convenience and necessity” for granting a state Department of Alcohol, Beverage and Control license to an Idyllwild business.

Cal ABC regulations limit the number of licenses within an area if there is an “undue concentration of licenses” — licenses per population. 

One of the criteria for undue concentration, according to ABC regulations, is if “the ratio of on-sale retail licenses to population in the census tract or census division in which the applicant premises are located exceeds the ratio of on-sale retail licenses to population in the county in which the applicant premises are located.” 

For Idyllwild, the threshold limit is two.

The current applicant is “The Wine Finch.” The applicant’s name is Granite Mountain LLC and the contact is David Landeros of Long Beach.

The Wine Finch application is standard for a beer and wine lounge, and wine tasting room. What is interesting is that, based on population, the Idyllwild limit is two, but 20 have already been issued. This is the 21st.

However, ABC regulations provide local jurisdictions the option to authorize the license. Each community views the alcohol licenses differently. There was a time when Idyllwild residents opposed any license here.

If the jurisdiction or county board confirms that a “public convenience and necessity” is justified, ABC will proceed with issuing the license.

ABC representatives noted that the large number of visitors to a town can contribute to the public convenience finding. 

“Due to the tourist nature of this community, there are a disproportionate number of existing licenses compared to typical census tracts to service visitors to the community. The proposed project follows this trend of providing additional liquor consumption opportunities to the visitors of this community and thus furthering the economic stimulation that results from servicing these visitors,” county staff wrote in the item’s presentation.

In this aspect, Big Bear is another area similar to Idyllwild, ABC added.

The Wine Finch seeks a type 42 license, which is for a beer and wine lounge, if consumption is on the premise. However, the county indicated that the owner may seek a Conditional Use Permit sometime in the future, which might permit sales of off-site consumption, but that is not part of the current plan. Individuals under age 18 are not permitted to enter.

The item was on the agenda for March 26. It was approved as part of the consent calendar. There was no discussion. 

“Given that The Wine Finch and the other license holders are in a tourist community and draw from a much wider customer base than the people who live in that census tract, it seemed appropriate to support the issuance of another license in this case,” wrote Michelle DeArmond, chief of staff to Supervisor Chuck Washington.