Alcohol Alert: Updates to SLA License Renewal

By Pesetsky & Bookman

Robert and Max Bookman of Pesetsky & Bookman, the Alliance's general and legislative counsel and alcohol licensing practitioners, have the following update for Alliance members:

Earlier in the month, the State Liquor Authority issued an advisory that creates new deadlines for submitting alcoholic beverage license renewal applications.  
You must now file your license renewal with SLA at least seven days before your license is set to expire.  This requirement begins on November 1.
You can read the full advisory here.  
1. Operating under SAPA

The advisory also clarifies SLA's position on how the State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA) applies to the new deadline for license renewals.  Many bar and restaurant owners have heard of SAPA, a state law that (among other things) permits a licensee that filed a timely and complete renewal application to continue operating past the expiration date of their license until SLA finishes reviewing the renewal.  This is referred to as "operating under SAPA" by many in the industry.  

Now, according to SLA, if you do not file your complete renewal application by the new seven-day deadline, SLA will consider you ineligible to operate under SAPA.  In other words, you must file your complete renewal with SLA at least seven days before your license is set to expire, or else SLA will not permit you to operate with alcohol past the expiration date of your license.  

Part of SLA's rationale for imposing this new seven-day deadline is to give the agency enough time to review renewal applications to determine whether they are complete and therefore eligible to operate under SAPA.

2. Two important caveats for New York City

Seven days may not seem like a difficult deadline to meet, but there are two important caveats that New York City bar and restaurant owners must understand:

  • 30 Day Notice to the Community Board.  All New York City bars and restaurants are required to notify the Community Board at least 30 days before filing their renewal.  Only New York City licensees are burdened with this requirement, which is not imposed anywhere else in the state.  If you do not file your renewal with proof that the Community Board was properly notified, SLA will not consider your application "complete."  And if you send your notice to the Community Board late, SLA will not consider your renewal until thirty days after you sent it.  So seven days becomes thirty-seven days, and even that is not really enough, once you read the next bullet point. 
  • "Mailing" is not the same as "filing."  Placing your complete renewal application in the mail seven days before your license expires does not mean that your renewal meets the seven-day deadline.  The day SLA receives the renewal is what counts, not the day it was mailed.  Give yourself extra time, and always use a tracking number. 
SLA sends a Renewal Advisory Notice to each licensee three months before their license is set to expire.  We recommend that you start working on your renewal as soon as you receive this notice. 
3. Deferred payment of renewal fees extended again
Yesterday SLA approved another extension of the deadline by which renewal fees must be paid.  Under the extension, bars and restaurants with on-premises licenses expiring on or after March 31, 2020 may continue to defer submission of renewal fees until November 30, 2020.  As a reminder, even if you do defer submission of your renewal fee, you are still required to file the rest of the renewal application on time.

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