The Washington State Liquor Control Board may deny banquet permits to certain individuals or organizations, or for use at certain premises.
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December 22, 1954
Honorable Evro M. Becket
Washington State Liquor Control Board
Olympia, Washington Cite as: AGO 53-55 No. 369
On November 19, 1954, you requested an opinion from this office on a question which we have paraphrased as follows: "May the Liquor Control Board deny a banquet permit to certain persons or organizations, or for use at certain premises where the Board feels the same is not being applied for legitimate purposes?"
It is our opinion that the Washington State Liquor Control Board may in the exercise of its discretion deny a banquet permit to certain individuals or organizations, or for the use at certain premises.
In determining the right of the Liquor Control Board to exercise discretion in the issuance of banquet permits we must give consideration to the powers and duties of the Board under the Washington State Liquor Act as amended.
RCW 66.20.010 classifies permits and provides for their issuance upon application being made on the prescribed form and upon the employee beingsatisfied that the applicant should be granted a permit for the purchase of liquor under this title. Then the employee shall issue a permit to the class applied for, [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] as follows:
"(4) Where the application is for a special permit to consume liquor at a banquet, at a specified date and place, a special permit in the prescribed form entitling the applicant to purchase liquor for consumption at such banquet, to such applicants and at such fee and under such regulations as may be fixed by the board; * * *."
It is to be noted that the employees must be "satisfied that the applicant should be granted a permit for the purchase of liquor under this title and the employee shall issue to the applicant a permit * * *." The Liquor Act provides under RCW 66.08.010. "This title shall be deemed an exercise of the police power of the state, for the protection of the welfare, health, peace, morals and safety of the people of the state, and all its provisions shall be liberally construed for the accomplishment of that purpose." This, it appears, gives the Board the power of discretion which it may exercise for the protection of the welfare, and so on, of the people of the state.
It is a well recognized rule of law that certain businesses and occupations where inimical to the welfare of the people may only be engaged in after proper permit or license has been applied for and granted. It is also a well established rule of law that the granting of a license does not create any vested property right to do that thing which would otherwise be an offense.
One of the early cases in this state is State ex rel. Aberdeen v. Superior Court, 44 Wash. 526. In that case certain individuals doing business under the firm name of Jakobsson and Burk were conducting a saloon in the City of Aberdeen, and after notice to them the city council had served upon such operators a notice to "appear before the city council of the City of Aberdeen, Washington, at the council chamber of said city at the hour of 7:30 o'clock p.m., Monday, September 10, 1906, and show cause why your saloon license shall not be revoked." Jakobsson and Burk appeared in person and by their attorney objected to the proceedings upon the grounds that no charge in writing [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] had been filed with the city council; that they had no knowledge of the nature of the purported charges; that the notice served upon them was insufficient, and that the council had no jurisdiction to revoke their license. The council proceeded and heard testimony, and thereafter adjourned until the next day when meeting was held in which Jakobbson and Burk were not present or permitted to attend, and at said meeting passed a resolution revoking the license. The licensees filed an affidavit in the superior court of Chehalis County, and prayed for a writ of review, in response to which the City of Aberdeen filed an application for a writ of prohibition in the superior court which writ was granted. In granting the writ, the supreme court said, on page 531:
"Section 2934supra (Ballinger's Code) provides that the mayor and council of each incorporated city shall have the sole and exclusive authority and power to regulate, restrain, license or prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors within the corporate limits of the city. This means that the city authorities are given a discretion in matters of this kind, which discretion is final and conclusive and therefore cannot be reviewed by the courts. Ryan v. Handley, 43 Wash. 232, 86 Pac. 398. InWallace v. The Mayor, etc., 27 Nev. 71, 73 Pac. 528, 103 Am.St. 747, it was held, under a statute very much like ours, that the mayor and council may actex parte and arbitrarily in matters of this kind, and that their act was not reviewable, and it was there said, quoting from note 2, section 363, of 1 Dillon on Mun. Corp. (4th ed.), that:
"'Licenses to sell liquors are not contracts between the state and the person licensed, giving the latter vested rights, and partaking of the nature of contracts, but are merely temporary permits to do what would otherwise be an offense, issued in the exercise of police powers, and subject to the direction of the government, which may revoke them as it deems fit.'"
[[Orig. Op. Page 4]]
TheAberdeen case, supra, has been quoted with approval in the case of State ex rel. Puyallup v. Superior Court, 50 Wash. 650.
In case ofBungalow Amusement Co. v. Seattle, 148 Wash. 485, the court stated at page 489:
"We first inquire as to the nature of the dance hall rights or privileges being exercised by the amusement company under its license. It is well settled law that there are certain businesses and vocations subject to regulation by the exercise of the police power, to the extent of even entirely prohibiting them; this upon the ground of their potential evil consequences. Probably, the most common of such businesses is and was the traffic in intoxicating liquor, even before the coming of state and national constitutional prohibitions against such business."
In that case the court further stated on page 491:
"InState ex rel. Aberdeen v. Superior Court, 44 Wash. 526, 87 Pac. 818, andState ex rel. Puyallup v. Superior Court, 50 Wash. 650, 97 Pac. 778, this court upheld the plenary power of each of those city councils, without court review, to revoke an intoxicating liquor license. InState ex rel. Pasco v. Superior Court, 49 Wash. 268, 94 Pac. 1086, this court upheld the plenary power of the city council, without court review, to refuse to grant a liquor license. InState ex rel. Reedhead v. Olympia, 122 Wash. 239, 210 Pac. 371, this court again upheld the plenary power of the city council, without court review, to refuse the granting of a pool hall license."
[[Orig. Op. Page 5]]
Under the sweeping language contained in this section, we cannot conclude otherwise than that the Board has the right to exercise discretion in the granting of permits or licenses, and its action in granting or withholding such permit or license is not subject to review.
Very truly yours,
FRED C. DORSEY
Assistant Attorney General