City Council Approves Controversial Alcohol Ordinance

By: Ja'Mein Beale - Wed, 02 May 2012 14:48:46 -0800

WALNUT CREEK (BCN)--The Walnut Creek City Council has voted unanimously to approve a controversial nuisance ordinance that will hold all alcohol-serving  establishments in the city to the same standards, a city spokeswoman said  today.
City officials said the ordinance will give city leaders more  control over problem bars, such as those that consistently over-serve patrons  or are venues for violence and other criminal activity such as vandalism. 
Any business that repeatedly violates the regulations could be  subject to a hearing before the Planning Commission, which would decide  whether to place additional restrictions on the establishment.
City staff said the ordinance levels the playing field for all  businesses in town that serve alcohol, since many such establishments were  exempt from regulations adopted in 2004 that tightened nuisance rules.
The new ordinance, which makes all bars subject to the 2004 rules,  was approved in the wake of a series of violent brawls at downtown bars.
The council's vote also followed months of opposition from local  bar owners, many of whom say the new law infringes on their rights, is  unnecessary and could hurt their businesses.
Bar owners again voiced their opposition to the ordinance for  about an hour during Tuesday's meeting, city spokeswoman Gail Vassar said.
A group of about 15 alcohol-serving business owners joined  together earlier this year to form the Walnut Creek Hospitality Group, which  threatened in February to sue the city if the ordinance passed.
A lawyer for the group could not immediately be reached for  comment this morning.
City leaders have said that the vast majority of Walnut Creek bar  owners should not be concerned by the new ordinance, since it will only  penalize businesses that consistently violate nuisance-based standards.
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