NBC 7's Steven Luke reports on a packed El Cajon Council meeting to discuss a new controversial alcohol ordinance.
In San Diego’s East County, business owners are threatening legal action after city officials approved a controversial decision targeting small liquor stores.
Members of the El Cajon City Council believe the city's small liquor stores are fueling public nuisance crimes ranging from public urination to homelessness.
The city even has a “Do Not Sell List” with 30 names and faces representing their most notorious offenders.
“If they behave themselves and be responsible business people and don't sell to these individuals. It won’t cost any money,” said El Cajon City Councilmember Bob McLellan.
The new ordinance, a first of its kind in the county, gives the city local control to dole out fines and fees - ultimately even pull a store's license for non-compliance.
"This will be the kiss of death for the business climate in the East County and El Cajon specifically,” said Neighborhood Market Association President Mark Arabo.
The association says the city’s new ordinance has too many hidden rules, 24 pages worth, and holds liquor stores accountable for things they can’t control
“Excessive loud noises outside, and we told them ‘How can a store control that?’ They said, “That's your fault.’ I said, ‘That's the city's fault, because we have to bring good business to El Cajon,’" Arabo said.
He said he believes the city's Chaldean business owners are scapegoat targets for the city's bigger social problems.
But as councilmembers targets stricter local enforcement some are already considering further restrictions;.
"The little small airline bottles, the flasks, the 32 oz bottles or bigger. the malt liquor," said McLellan. "I think we're going to regulate the sales of those so they can’t be sold anymore in El Cajon."
Arabo said the Neighborhood Association President is preparing to file a lawsuit against the new ordinance in court.