JUNE 2014 – Chamber Helps to Refine Alcohol Deemed Approved Ordinance

1 Alcohol ordianceAt a recent Board of Directors meeting, Police Chief Mark Garcia, Commander Chris Catren and Development Department representative, Sean Keleher presented an overview of the proposed Alcohol Deemed Approved Ordinance to the Board of Directors. The ordinance would apply to all new businesses that sell alcohol on or off site and require a CUP that would have performance criteria attached.  Chief Garcia explained that the ordinance would exclude restaurants.  Through the permitting process a formula would be applied that differentiates between bar/restaurant.  The issuance and maintenance of a CUP would depend on compliance of all alcohol related legal requirements.  All existing businesses that sell alcohol would be identified as Deemed Approved.

Commander Catren suggested that the ordinance would be used as an additional tool to maintain compliance in troubled areas.

The original draft of the Ordinance implied that an annual fee could be assessed to all alcohol related businesses, new and old.   When asked what the fees would be Garcia indicated that there would be no additional fees for/to the police department however, there could be fees charged to the program by other city departments including Development Department and Quality of Life. Keleher noted that the ordinance read “fees may be assigned”. No equation or estimate of fees was available.

Catren reported that each new application for businesses selling alcohol would be considered by the Planning Commission and conditions would be applied accordingly and individually. He also indicated that both new and Deemed Approved businesses owners and employees would have to go through the already existing service training program.

While the Chamber’s Board of Directors saw the benefit of the ordinance with respect to maintaining a continued safe environment for residents and visitors alike, they determined that because in its presented form, the ordinance alluded to fees but did not clearly define them further clarity was needed. Chamber President, Geoff Bonney, sent a letter to the Mayor and Council Member noting that transparency in all decisions made has been the mantra of elected officials and city staff but in this particular case the ordinance fell short of that promise.  In the letter the Board of Directors urged the Council to delay a decision until the issue of fees be resolved.

Before the ordinance was presented to the Council May 6th ,for their consideration,  it was refined and any suggestion of fee had been removed.

During the Council discussion, a number of existing bar and restaurant owners addressed the panel to voice their concerns with particular attention to the implication of possibly requesting internal security cameras feeding directly to the police department. While many suggested that they already have cameras surveying the exterior of their businesses the thought of internal camera was disconcerting.

Council directed city staff to meet with the business owners, managers and chamber representatives before any action was taken.  The item was tabled for later consideration.