Zoning Board to Decide Future of Black & White Liquor By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday December 02, 2005

The fate of Black & White Liquors will be determined at a Dec. 8 meeting of the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB). 

Following a brief discussion Monday night, ZAB members set the hearing to determine whether or not Black & White Liquors, 3027 Adeline St., constitutes a public nuisance. 

If ZAB decides it is that would mean the end of liquor sales for owner/operator Sucha Singh Banger. 

A store clerk, Satnan Singh, was arrested on five counts of attempting to receive stolen property on June 8, when Berkeley Police busted him in a sting operation in which they offered to sell him liquor they told him had been stolen. 

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control issued a 20-day suspension of the store’s liquor license, effective Nov. 16. 

Prior to the June 8 incident, the only two recorded disciplinary actions against Banger’s license occurred in 1989 and 1980. 

South Berkeley residents, including former City Council candidate Laura Menard, are seeking the public nuisance finding. 

“I have seen liquor sales to inebriated people in the middle of the day, and I believe the store is central to the presence of street inebriates who make it difficult for business owners along the Adeline corridor,” Menard said. 

Menard said she was concerned that at least seven liquor stores had been in operation within a few blocks of each other in an area of the city with a relatively high crime rate. 

The store also has strong supporters, including postal carrier Martin Vargas, who has been distributing photocopied letters along his route seeking support for Banger. 

Black & White was closed for more than four months after a July 20 arson-caused blaze damaged the store’s interior. 

Firefighters and police evacuating the building discovered a large cache of firearms and a 178-plant marijuana growing operation in an upstairs apartment rented by a tenant. Police have found no evidence to link Banger to his tenant’s operations. 

Banger has since restored the building, and was scheduled to recommence liquor sales Tuesday, two days before the ZAB hearing.  

He also owns the building at 2948 Martin Luther King Jr. Way—a block west of Black & White—that housed Laiga and Nasser Elbgal’s Grove Market. That business closed when the owners surrendered their liquor license in September.