Alcohol Enforcement Program - ABC Officer



The Program

In October of 2005 the Ventura City Council approved an Alcohol Sales Permit Ordinance to provide for the regulation of alcohol licenses and establishments within the City of Ventura.

The ordinance was initiated by the City Council to govern the Conditional Use Permit process, whereby regulations can be imposed and enforcement can take place if there are violations of the conditions. The ordinance funds an Officer who manages, monitors, and enforces alcohol related incidents throughout the City.

Prior to the ordinance being enacted, all establishments in the City of Ventura needed only to obtain an annual Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) license (payable to ABC) to sell alcohol. With the implementation of the ordinance, businesses that sell liquor must now pay an annual alcohol sales permit fee to the City of Ventura. Those fees, as previously mentioned, pay for the officer’s position and allow him/her to be a liaison with local businesses, our Police Department, the City of Ventura, ABC, and others on issues as they pertain to ABC licensing.

Fee Components

Fee Components are determined by a tiered category of low to high for each of the following four components as described below: Potential Risk, Hours of Operation, Annual Wholesale Purchases of alcohol, and Entertainment (if applicable). A business is then assigned a value of high, medium (excluding risk), or low for each category.

The alcohol permit fee can range from $250 to $1400* (*Entertainment Permit fee, if applicable, is an additional $300. Please see Entertainment Category below).


Retail outlets where alcoholic beverages are sold: any bar, tavern, liquor store, convenience store or other business the City determines to be High Risk. All other alcohol establishments shall not constitute a high-risk alcohol outlet.


Determined by the latest hour in which a business sold alcohol on any day in the previous year.


Refers to the dollar volume of a business' wholesale alcohol purchases for the previous calendar year. In the case of a partial year for new businesses, the volume will be based on annualized purchases.


Determined by whether a business provides entertainment. Entertainment is typically categorized as Dance Hall, DJ, etc. In the event a business provides entertainment an Entertainment Permit fee in the amount of $300 will also required.
The hours and volume component are divided into three categories as described below in the table.





No later than 10:00 pm

Zero to $50,000.00


No later than midnight

$50,000.00 to $100,000.00


After midnight

Over $100,000.00

The table below describes the Alcohol Sales Permit Category Fees based on the various components:

















ABC Officer - Officer Bernadette Compean

Officer Bernadette Compean is our department's ABC Officer and she oversees all ABC licenses and alcohol sales permits within the City of Ventura. Officer Compean works with businesses and assists them with ABC rules and regulations, licensing, liquor sales, employee sales of alcohol, making sure they understand and are in compliance with their alcohol permit, enforces non-compliant businesses, educates local businesses regarding such issues as underage drinking and sales to minors, and oversees entertainment permits. Additionally, Officer Compean assist ABC with compliance, education, and enforcement efforts.

Minor Decoy Operation:

This program allows law enforcement agencies and ABC to use persons under 20 years of age as decoys for the purposes of purchasing alcoholic beverages from licensed premises. The use of underage decoys to check whether licensees are selling alcohol to minors shows a drop in the illegal activity when the minor decoy program is repeatedly used. Law Enforcement agencies around the State have resumed using decoy programs since the State Supreme Court, in 1994, unanimously ruled the practice was constitutional and not entrapment.

Decoy Shoulder Tap:

“Shoulder Tap” is a common method used by persons under the age of 21 to solicit persons to purchase and furnish them alcoholic beverages. The Shoulder Tap program is an enforcement program used by ABC and local law enforcement agencies. The program uses underage decoys, under the direct supervision of law enforcement officers, to conduct such solicitations in front of off-sale licensed premises. The person who is seen furnishing an alcoholic beverage to the decoy is arrested.


One of Officer Compean's duties is to perform inspections of on-sale and off-sale alcohol licenses in the City of Ventura. While conducting inspections Bernadette looks for various ABC offenses and local code enforcement issues. For example, one item Officer Compean may look for at an off-sale facility (such as a liquor store) is the type of coverage or signage displayed in the facility’s windows. ABC law states that no more than 30% of the windows can be covered by signage, or other materials which may impede the view into and out of the facility, at one time. This is done as a matter of safety so public safety personnel will be able to see into a facility in the event of an incident or altercation. During an inspection Officer  Compean may also look for mandatory signage as required by state law. Mandatory signage includes visible or prominent display of a business’ alcohol permit fee, alcohol license, underage tobacco warnings, no loitering, and no open container signage.

Social Host Ordinance

In 2007 the City of Ventura passed a Social Host ordinance. This means if you host a party that turns into a loud or unruly gatherings where alcoholic beverages are served to or consumed by underage persons you will be cited for $1000 for the first occurrence and $2000 plus the cost of emergency services for the second occurrence.

Relevant B & P and City Ordinance Sections

25631 B&P – Retail hours of sale
25632 B&P – Permitting consumption during restricted hours
25658(a) B&P – Sales to minors
25658(b) B&P – Sales to minors (consumption)
25658(d) B&P – Sales to minors (permitting consumption)
25658.5 B&P – Minor attempt to purchase
25659.5 B&P – Beer Keg Registration
25661 B&P – Use of false identification by minor
25662 B&P – Minor in possession
25663 (a) – Employment of minors in On-sale premises
25663 (b) – Employment of minors in Off-sale premises
25667 B&P – Service by minors
25665 B&P – Minor in Public Premises

24.460.610 (A)(1) SBMC – Unlawful to operate new or modified alcoholic beverage establishment without valid alcohol use permit

24.460.610 (A)(1) SBMC – Violation of alcohol use permit or conditions of licensed premises

24.460.610 (B) SBMC – Unlawful to operate a deemed approved alcoholic beverage establishment without a valid alcohol use permit or violate the operational standards of the alcohol use permit

New Requirements for all Businesses

Operational standards for Alcoholic Beverage Establishments:
All new and existing alcoholic beverage establishments (ABE) shall be operated in conformance with the following standards pursuant to San Buenaventura Municipal Code (SBMC) Chapter 24.460:

  • Compliance with the State’s Alcohol Beverage Control Act
  • Nuisance Conditions. The ABE will be active in discouraging and correcting objectionable conditions that constitute nuisances on-site and on adjacent sites.
  • Litter and Graffiti. The ABE shall maintain a litter free area within (20) feet of the premises and remove any graffiti within (48) hours following receipt of violation.
  • Mode of Alcoholic Beverage Sales. Alcoholic Beverage sales from drive-up or walk-up service windows shall be prohibited.
  • Signs. All signs required by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act shall be posted as required by the ABC not withstanding sign regulations in SBMC Chapter 24.420.

For On-sale Establishments:

  • The selling of alcoholic beverages for consumption off the premises is prohibited except where alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on an adjoining public sidewalk pursuant to a permit issued in the manner provided by SBMC Chapter 24.477.
  • Any entertainment provided at the establishment shall be carried out in a manner authorized by any dance hall or entertainment permit issued pursuant to SBMC Chapter 10.450 and shall not be audible more than (50) feet from the boundary of the property containing the establishment unless otherwise expressly authorized by the permit.

For Off-sale Establishments:

  • The placement of a temporary sign on a window or the transparent portion of any door of an ABE requires a directors permit and shall be allowed on the first floor only, shall not cover more than %40 of a window or transparent portion of the door, and may be used for no more than 90 days each calendar year. Permanent signs on a window or transparent portion of a door require design review.
  • The operator of the ABE shall not allow any consumption of alcoholic beverages on-site or adjacent areas.
  • The sale of beer or malt beverage products in containers greater than (32) ounces in volume is prohibited. This standard is not intended to restrict kegs or other containers of two or more gallons that clearly dispense multiple servings.

ABC Resources