Public Comment (Protest/Support) Process

The city's role in the liquor license application process is advisory only. The City Council votes to make a 
recommendation to the State Department of Liquor License and Control (DLLC), for approval or disapproval.

 

Regular Liquor License (Series 1-14) Process Overview: 

The regular liquor license application process is composed of the following stages:

  • Application Submittal: All regular liquor license applications are submitted directly to the DLLC. Arizona Revised Statutes - A.R.S. 4-201.A & B.
  • Application Sent to City: State Law requires that new applications be forwarded to the corresponding City Clerk. The City of Phoenix, City Clerk Department - License Services Office receives liquor license applications for Phoenix directly from the DLLC. A.R.S. 4-201.B.
  • Posting & Posting Period: Pursuant to State Law, a copy of the application is posted for a period of 20 days, in a conspicuous place, on the front of the premises where the liquor license is proposed to be located. In the City of Phoenix, the copy of the application is posted at the proposed location on a large green board. The green board/posting remains at the proposed liquor license location for 20 calendar days (referred to as the posting period.) A.R.S. 4-201.B
  • Public Comment & Comment Period: License Services can receive public comments (protest/support) during the 20 day posting period. A.R.S. 4-201.B
  • City Departmental Review(s): License Services forwards a copy of the liquor license application to the following City Departments for review and potential comment/follow-up: Police, Finance, Planning and Development, and Street and Transportation (when 300 ft . rule applies, A.R.S. 4-207.)
  • City Staff Recommendation to City Council: License Services reviews the application, departmental comments and any public comments, and makes a recommendation to the City Council on whether to recommend approval or disapproval to the State.  
  • City Council Recommendation to the State: The City Council takes action on all regular liquor license applications at Formal Council Meetings and makes a recommendation for approval, disapproval or makes “no recommendation” to the State. A.R.S. 4- 201.C .
  • State Approval/Denial of the License/Liquor Board Hearing: The State either approves the liquor license or sets the liquor license for a hearing in front of the Liquor Board. A.R.S. 4-201.E.

 

Public Comments (Protest/Support) (A.R.S. 4-201):

  • State Law allows for, and sets guidelines for public comments related to pending liquor applications.
  • Public comments (protest/support) must be submitted in writing to the City Clerk Department - License Services Office during the posting period to be considered by staff.
  • Written comments may be mailed or hand delivered to the City of Phoenix, City Clerk Department, License Services office located at 200 W. Washington , 1st Floor, Phoenix , AZ 85003.  Alternatively, written comments may be sent to License Services as an attachment to an email to: liquor@phoenix.gov.  
  • Public comments must be received by License Services by 5pm of the last day of the posting period.
  • License Services may be unable to process or consider public comments if the guidelines/requirements of A.R.S. 4-201 for public comments are not met.
  • Any comments submitted to License Services must be submitted directly to the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control in order to be considered by the State.

 

Written public comments must meet the following criteria/requirements to be considered valid: If filed by Individuals/Natural Persons (A.R.S. 4-201): 

  • The natural person must be a bona fide resident residing or owning or leasing property within a one mile radius from the premises proposed to be licensed.
    • A physical address for the natural person must be provided with any public comments submitted to License Services or documentation demonstrating that the person submitting the public comment is a bona fide resident residing or owning or leasing property within a one mile radius will be required.
  • Must file written arguments in favor of or opposed to the issuance of the license containing:
    • Reason(s) supporting the protest/support.
    • Items that can be considered as a basis for protest/support include (A.R.S. 4-203.A):

    Applicants’ capability, reliability, and qualifications.

    Location (only in some cases). Public convenience/need/best interest of the community.

    Appropriateness of the business (A.R.S. 4-201.H) Example: A bar (with no food sales) trying to obtain a restaurant license.

  • Natural person's complete name.
  • Natural person’s street address or post office box address (If only a post office box address is provided, proof of residing, owning or leasing property within one mile radius of the proposed liquor location will be required by License Services).
  • Natural person’s signature (must be a signature, not a typed name).
  • Must file the written arguments with License Services within 20 days after the date of posting, by 5pm of the last day of the posting period.

 

If filed by a neighborhood association, block watch or other unincorporated association  (A.R.S. 4-201):

  • The neighborhood association, block watch or other unincorporated association (referred to as neighborhood group) must be a bona fide resident residing or owning or leasing property within a one mile radius from the premises proposed to be licensed.
    • The City of Phoenix, Neighborhood Services Department (NSD) maintains a Neighborhood Association Listing for neighborhood groups. This list helps identify neighborhood groups; their size, boundaries, contact information and address.
    • When comments from a neighborhood group are received, License Services will check the NSD Neighborhood Association Listing to verify that the neighborhood group submitting comments for a liquor license application is within a one mile radius from the proposed liquor license location.
    • If the neighborhood group submitting comments is not registered with NSD’s Neighborhood Association Listing, other documentation will be required to demonstrate that the neighborhood group is within the one mile radius of the proposed liquor license. E.g.: Formation documents/meeting minutes that contain information about the groups’ size, boundaries, contact information and address.          
  • Must file written arguments in favor of or opposed to the issuance of the license containing:
    • Reason(s) supporting the protest/support.
    • Items that can be considered as a basis for protest/support include (A.R.S. 4-203.A):

    Applicants’ capability, reliability, and qualifications.

    Location (only in some cases). Public convenience/need/best interest of the community.

    Appropriateness of the business (A.R.S. 4-201.H) Example: A bar (with no food sales) trying to obtain a restaurant license.

  • A copy of the written appointment authorizing the person (submitting arguments) to speak on behalf of the neighborhood group. Reference: Arizona State Liquor Board Guidelines for Letters of Authority Designating Spokespersons.

 

If filed by a person on behalf of a corporation or other legal entity or association (A.R.S. 4-201 e.g.: LLC, INC, or Corporation):

  • The corporation or other legal entity or association (referred to as legal entity) must be a bona fide resident residing or owning or leasing property within a one mile radius from the premises proposed to be licensed.
    • A physical address for the legal entity must be provided with any public comments submitted to License Services or documentation demonstrating that the legal entity submitting the public comment is a bona fide resident residing or owning or leasing property within a one mile radius will be required.
  • Must file written arguments in favor of or opposed to the issuance of the license containing:
    • Reason(s) supporting the protest/support.
      • Items that can be considered as a basis for protest/support include (A.R.S. 4-203.A):
    • Applicants’ capability, reliability, and qualifications.

      Location (only in some cases). Public convenience/need/best interest of the community.

      Appropriateness of the business (A.R.S. 4-201.H) Example: A bar (with no food sales) trying to obtain a restaurant license.

    • A copy of the corporation or other legal entity or association’s organizing document(s).
    • A designation of the office or position the person filing comments holds within the legal entity.
    • A copy of the written appointment authorizing the person (sbmitting arguments) to speak on behalf of the legal entity. Reference: Arizona State Liquor Board Guidelines for Letters of Authority Designating Spokespersons.
    • The legal entity should also be registered with the AZ Corporation Commission.
  • Other ways to make comments on a pending liquor license
  • Make Comments in Person at the Appropriate Formal Council Meeting: Every regular liquor license application is scheduled to be heard by the Phoenix City Council at a Formal Council Meeting. A person wishing to comment on a pending liquor license application may attend the Formal Council Meeting where the corresponding liquor license application item is scheduled to be heard, and make comments in person, on the record.  Reference: Formal Council Meeting Agendas. Comments made at a Formal Council Meeting regarding a pending liquor license will be forwarded to the DLLC in the form of meeting minutes, only if the Council recommends disapproval.
  • Directly to the State: Written public comments submitted to the City, must also be submitted by the protestor(s)/supporter(s) directly to the State for consideration by the State Liquor Board.  Written comments must be filed within 60 calendar days of the filing of a liquor license application with the DLLC and no later than 15 calendar days following action by the Phoenix City Council (Formal Meeting date where the Council makes a recommendation for approval, disapproval or no comment), individuals/entities/groups that meet the requirements listed in A.R.S. 4-201, may file written comments directly to the State to: Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, Arizona State Liquor Board, 800 W. Washington St., 5th Floor, Phoenix, AZ 85007. Reference: Protest Instructions and Hearings before the Arizona State Liquor Board.