USPS and SLA License Renewal Crisis

By Pesetsky & Bookman

As Alliance members are no doubt aware, the State Liquor Authority has only one method by which restaurants, bars and hotels may renew their liquor licenses - the United States Postal Service.

When it comes time for you to renew your license, SLA requires you to mail a hard copy of your renewal application to a PO Box in Buffalo. 
As everyone in the country is learning, the USPS is in disarray. What traditionally took days is now taking weeks to arrive in Buffalo by regular mail. Even USPS guaranteed next day mail can take over 2 weeks!
We are in discussions with SLA to try to come up with solutions, even temporary ones, for the next few months. For example, we have proposed that SLA:
  • Allow hand delivery of renewal applications to SLA's New York City office in Harlem 
  • Provide an address where renewal applications can be delivered by more reliable carriers like FedEx or UPS
  • Create an email address where electronic copies of mailed renewals could be sent
  • Permit New York City licensees to mail their renewal applications to SLA before the 30-day Community Board comment period expires; a requirement that is unique to New York City
For now, SLA has advised us of the following
  1. The Community Board notice section of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law gives licensees up to 270 days before license expiration to file the required 30-day notice with the Community Board. In other words, there is no need to wait for SLA to send you a Renewal Advisory Notice to start the 30-day clock on the notice to the Community Board
  2. If you are short on time, SLA will accept a written waiver by the Community Board of their 30 day comment period, if you are able to obtain one
  3. SLA is working with their PO Box vendor in Buffalo to explore the possibility of accepting deliveries from private carriers like FedEx and UPS 
  4. SLA will be moving to sending out Renewal Advisory Notices to licensees 120 days in advance of license expiration, instead of the traditional 90 days
  5. Licensees should mail their completed renewal applications to SLA 4-6 weeks prior to the expiration date, which means getting started on the renewal process much sooner than many licensees typically do.
While SLA's advice is greatly appreciated, it is too late for licenses that expire in the end of March and the end of April. Temporary solutions, including those we suggested, must be adopted. Businesses cannot function without their liquor licenses and New York City cannot make its comeback with even more closed restaurants and bars.
In the meantime, we suggest that anyone submitting a renewal application obtain a proof of mailing that includes the mailing date, and to mail their renewal applications in as soon as possible. 

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