The Davis City Council on Tuesday will consider extending a ban on new restaurants and nightspots for another 10 months as officials look at more comprehensive regulations after a fatal bar fight downtown in September.
The city last month approved a temporary ban on the expansion or creation of restaurants serving alcohol. The extended moratorium would last until Sept. 28, 2016, although the city would likely end it sooner, said Assistant City Manager Kelly Stachowicz.
The council is scheduled to vote on the extension at its Tuesday night meeting.
The extension will give city staff time to come up with options for regulating nightspots serving alcohol, she said. The city does not have any nightclubs, at least as they are defined by state law, and the city needs to figure out how to regulate restaurants that effectively become nightclubs after serving dinner, she said.
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Under the proposed extension, bars or restaurants over 2,500 square feet could not open or expand unless they can prove a hardship.
A city staff report said seven current or proposed restaurants are under review by planning officials, and the extended ban likely would not stop their plans. Four would not be affected by the moratorium because they are under 2,500 feet; another is not covered by the ban because it’s a brewery.
A sixth establishment, Blondies New York Pizza, has already received an exemption from the City Council. A seventh, Tasty Kitchen, is likely to receive an exemption as well, as its proposed work is for disability access, according to the report.
The city has grappled with how to handle its downtown nightlife since Peter Alexander Gonzales, a 23-year-old college student from the Los Angeles area, was killed Sept. 19 at KetMoRee, a Thai restaurant on G Street that becomes a dance club at night. Five people have been charged in Yolo Superior Court in Gonzales’ death.
Robb Davis, the only council member to vote against the initial moratorium, said Monday he would like to see if there are other options for public safety short of a ban. He said the city might use the same response it had for one restaurant for all future proposed openings.
In that instance last month, the City Council approved a hardship exemption for Blondies, which was already in the process of opening on G Street when the temporary ban went into effect. When granting the exemption, the council set a number of conditions on the restaurant, including a requirement that it continue to serve food late into the evening and stop serving alcohol by 1 a.m.
Councilman Davis said a moratorium would create uncertainty for businesses wanting to locate in Davis and additional work for the City Council, as it will inevitably get more hardship requests. However, he said he will support the moratorium if there’s no other workable solution to address the downtown safety issue.
It’s unclear where business leaders stand on the proposed moratorium. The executive director of Downtown Davis, a business group, did not return messages Monday, and the executive director of the Davis Chamber of Commerce said she could not comment until she consulted her board of directors.