Alcoholic Beverage Sales: Liquor Licenses and Related County Permits

State License to Sell Alcoholic Beverages​​​​

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) issues alcoholic beverage licenses (colloquially known as Liquor Licenses).  The most common types of licenses include on-sale (for consumption on-site) and off-sale (for consumption off-site) licenses for convenience stores, large grocery store, restaurants, beer manufacturer (brewery), wine grower (winery) and bar/taverns, brew pub/micro-brewery, and bar/night clubs. Visit the State of California Alcoholic Beverage Control Website for information on the various types of licenses and application form/process.  

​If you are seeking an ABC license #23, #41, #47 or #75 (sale of alcohol at an eatery establishment), a Minor Use Permit from the Zoning Administrator will be required.  ​See the Minor Use Permit page for more information.​

The applicant/licensee is advised to contact Sacramento County Department of Community Development promptly following license application with ABC; ABC requests that any required entitlements and approvals from the County (e.g. Minor Use Permits, or Conditional Use Permits) be obtained prior to submitting a liquor license application to ABC.

Letter of Convenience and/or Necessity (PCN)​​​​

Each County in California is allotted a specific number of off-sale licenses, identified by census tract and determined based on population.  When the authorized licenses are exhausted in a census tract, ABC will conclude that a new application for a liquor license would result in over-concentration, and is therefore required by state law to deny the application for license.  Similarly, ABC will deny an application for a license if the establishment is located within an area determined by the County Sheriff's Department to be a high crime area.  However, if the applicant can demonstrate to the local governing authority (Sacramento County Board of Supervisors) that the public would benefit from the presence of an additional alcohol sales outlet and obtain a Letter of Public Convenience and Necessity (PCN) from the Board of Supervisors, ABC will thereupon issue a license.  The most common ABC licenses that generally require a PCN letter include off-sale licenses #20 or #21, and on-sale licenses #40, #42 or #48. 

Sacramento County's process for issuing a PCN Letter is codified in the Sacramento County Code, Chapter 4.60 (Regulations of Alcohol Sales). The process involves a public hearing before the local Community Planning Advisory Council (CPAC) and the Board of Supervisors, with noticing to the public and opportunity to be heard.  ​

Application For Applicants​ Seeking a ​​Public Convenience and Necessity (PCN) Letter 

​​​Minor Use Permit for Restaurants Serving Alcohol

Pursuant to Section 3.7.3.B of the Zoning Code (Effective September 25, 2015), a Minor Use Permit, issued by the Zoning Administrator, is required for any restaurant or similar establishment that serves beer, wine and/or distilled spirits in conjunction with the business, and requires alcoholic beverage license #23, #41,​​ #47 or #75 from ABC. ​See the Minor Use Permit page​ for more information and application materials.  

​​​More Information​​

If you need more information or an application about Sacramento County’s PCN letter process, please email ​