The Davis City Council on Tuesday will consider lifting a ban on new or expanded nightclubs that was imposed after a fatal stabbing at a downtown club in September.
In place of the ban, the council will vote on an ordinance that would put the police chief in charge of issuing a new entertainment permit for businesses such as restaurants that regularly provide late-night live entertainment or music for dancing. That would allow the chief to impose conditions relating to days, hours and location on business applicants, as well as restrictions designed to keep minors away from alcohol.
The ordinance also would require responsible server training and alcohol and drug education for bartenders, security, wait staff and managers.
Police Chief Darren Pytel said city staff worked closely with downtown businesses and restaurants to craft the requirements.
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“A lot of the businesses already follow these provisions anyway, at this point voluntarily,” he said.
The permit process gives the chief discretion in rejecting an application if it will “constitute an undue burden on the neighborhood because of its proximity to residences, inadequate parking or other neighborhood circumstances.”
Davis Mayor Dan Wolk said he thinks the new permitting process represents a good balance between the concerns of community members who were shocked by the stabbing and the interests of business owners.
“I’m really appreciative of the effort to come up with this,” he said. “I do view this as a starting point. If it turns out that we need to do more in the future, that option is available.”
Wolk said he is planning to propose adding sexual assault awareness and bystander intervention training to the list of required education at Tuesday’s meeting. He referenced an October incident in which a woman was assaulted in a park after meeting her attackers in a downtown club. Bystander intervention training would teach nightclub staff warning signs that an act of sexual violence could occur between patrons.
The City Council enacted the ban on new clubs and expansions after a rise in violent crime in downtown Davis punctuated by the stabbing death of Peter Gonzales, 23, at the popular restaurant and nightclub KetMoRee. The incident, which seemed out of place in a city known for being quirky and somewhat quiet, alarmed Davis residents and officials.
At least one downtown restaurant operator changed his business strategy – the owner of Tres Hermanas, an establishment near the site of the stabbing, decided to quit operating a dance club out of the restaurant at night.
No bars or clubs were shut down by the city, but existing businesses haven’t been allowed to expand under the ban. Council members extended the moratorium for a year in November, but they asked staff in February to draft an ordinance that would allow nightclubs to open under new restrictions.
Under the new system, the city would create two permits that would replace the currently required dance permit, according to a staff report. An entertainment permit would apply to businesses that regularly provide late-night live entertainment or music for dancing. The permit limits hours of operation to between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m., except for New Year’s, when the businesses could continue festivities until 3 a.m.