California bill would allow beauty salons, barbershops to serve alcohol without permit

Getting a "buzz" at the local hair salon could have an entirely different meaning soon.

A bill making its way through the California legislature would allow beauty salons and barbershops to serve alcohol without a liquor license.

But alcohol industry watchdogs are blasting the bill, calling it a threat to public safety that would flood the state with some 20,000 businesses able to serve alcohol.

"This is one of the stupidest and most dangerous bills I've seen in a long time," said Bruce Lee Livingston, a spokesman for Alcohol Justice.

Assemblymember Tom Daly (D-Anaheim) sponsored California Assembly Bill 1322, which would allow hair salons and barber shops to give customers one free beer or glass of wine. Per the bill, no more than 12 ounces of beer or six ounces of wine may be served.

The alcohol could only be served during business hours and no later than 10 p.m. Daly says many of these businesses are already serving complimentary alcohol under the impression that, since it's free, they don't need a license.

"It's technically illegal. The regulations say unless you charge for the beverage and you are fully licensed you may not serve. So there's a gray area in the law, and the law needs to be modernized," Daly said.

Salon owners Eyewitness News spoke with say it's common in the industry to offer customers a free glass of wine or beer to make them feel at home.

"Most women like to book in at the end of the day knowing their little escape here to hang out and have a glass with us and get their hair done," said Erica McAdams, the owner of Evolutions Salon in Pasadena.

McAdams says she's been serving customers a glass of wine during visits for the past 17 years and has never had any problems associated with the practice.

But Livingston says California's Alcohol Beverage Control officers would be inundated with thousands of new enforcement spots.

"There are currently over 60,000 or 70,000 ABC licenses throughout California. This bill would create 30,000 to 40,000 new venues for the consumption of alcohol," Livingston said.

Daly says the number of new establishments serving alcohol would be closer to 20,000. AB 1322 has already made it through the assembly. If it passes the senate it could be on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk as early as June.

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