Short answer: About 200 for restaurants and bars — the most per square mile among California cities — and three dozen for stores

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Liquor licenses are issued by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). A recent check of ABC’s website showed 234 active retail licenses in West Hollywood. Of those, 197 were “on-sale” licenses typically issued to restaurants and bars. The other 37 were “off-sale” licenses for stores that sell alcohol.

This report focuses on restaurant/bar-type licenses: on-sale beer/wine and general licenses for “eating places” and “public premises.”

We’re reporting the numbers without making any judgments. In one city, a large number of licenses could be a welcome sign of a thriving economy. In another city, it might be a warning sign of potential public safety issues.


Number of licenses compared to other cities

ABC counted the active liquor licenses by city and type as of June 2015. At that point, West Hollywood had 219 restaurant/bar-type licenses and 37 store licenses. We’re excluding other types of licenses used for catering, events, mini-bars, etc.

West Hollywood ranked 24th in the number of restaurant/bar-type licenses. The 23 cities with more licenses were all larger cities. Los Angeles was first and Santa Monica was 12th. Santa Ana (the county seat of Orange County) was just above West Hollywood. Palm Springs was just below.


Licenses per capita

One way of comparing the number of liquor licenses among cities is per capita. West Hollywood had 61 restaurant/bar-type liquor licenses for every 10,000 residents. That was roughly 50% more than Beverly Hills (42) and twice the level in Santa Monica (29) and Culver City (28). It was four times higher than Burbank (16) and six times Los Angeles and Glendale (9).

Notes: The ABC database lists some neighborhoods separate from their cities. We combined them. We counted ABC license types 41, 42, 47, and 48, as of June 30, 2015. Population estimates are from six months later. Source: California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, License Summary Counts; California Department of Finance population estimates; our analysis.

Statewide, West Hollywood was in the 96th percentile. Beverly Hills was in the 91st percentile. Santa Monica and Culver City were in the 84th. Los Angeles was in the 39th.

Many of the cities with more restaurant/bar-type liquor licenses per capita are vacation destinations. Examples include Carmel, Big Bear, Avalon, Solvang, and Mammoth. We assume they have proportionately more visitors, who drink but aren’t included in the calculation.


Licenses per square mile

West Hollywood had 116 restaurant/bar-type licenses per square mile in 2015. That’s more than any other city in California. It’s almost twice as many as the next city, Carmel.

For context, West Hollywood is the 53rd smallest city in California. It also has the fourth highest population density (see our earlier report).

West Hollywood shares the top of the list with a number of oceanside (or bayside) communities: Carmel (#2), Hermosa Beach (#3), Santa Monica (#5), Sausalito (#6), Manhattan Beach (#13), and Redondo Beach (#14). We assume they have more bars and restaurants to serve a large number of visitors.

Source: California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, License Summary Counts for June 30, 2015; Wikipedia, List of Cities and Towns in California, accessed May 4, 2016; our analysis.

In addition to Santa Monica, two other nearby cities were also in the top 20: Beverly Hills and Culver City. Santa Monica had 33 restaurant/bar-type licenses per square mile, which put it in the 99th percentile. Beverly Hills had 26 — 20% fewer per square mile than Santa Monica — which still put it in the 98th percentile. Culver City had 22 and was in the 97th percentile.

By comparison, Los Angeles had only eight per square mile, which was still in the 76th percentile. Burbank had 10 and Glendale had six.


Numbers for 476 California cities

The table below shows our estimates for restaurant/bar-type liquor licenses in 476 California cities in June 2015. Use the scrollbar on the right to move through the list. Click on a column heading to sort the table using that column. Click again to sort the other direction.

Notes: Percentile defined here as the percentage of cities with a value up to or equal to a given city’s. Both the value and the percentile were rounded to the nearest whole number for presentation purposes. A few cities not listed by ABC were assumed to have no licenses. Source: California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, License Summary Counts; California Department of Finance population estimates for January 1, 2016; Wikipedia, List of Cities and Towns in California, accessed May 4, 2016; our analysis.


http://wehobythenumbers.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/201611-liquor-licenses-per-10k-residents.jpghttp://wehobythenumbers.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/201611-liquor-licenses-per-10k-residents-300x300.jpgDavid WarrenBusinessPublic safetybeverly hills,burbank,culver city,glendale,los angeles,santa monica
Short answer: About 200 for restaurants and bars -- the most per square mile among California cities -- and three dozen for stores| Liquor licenses are issued by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). A recent check of ABC's website showed 234 active retail licenses in West...