Responding to a fatal Sept. 19 bar fight at a downtown Davis nightclub, the Davis City Council imposed a temporary ban Tuesday on new restaurants and nightspots to give the community time to evaluate whether entertainment venues are expanding too fast for the city’s safety.
The council voted 4-1 in a special morning session to approve a 45-day ban on the expansion or opening of restaurants, bars or nightclubs in the city. City leaders specifically cited the death of Peter Alexander Gonzales, a Hacienda Heights 23-year-old, at the KetMoRee nightclub as the impetus for the urgency measure.
Hours after the vote, Victor Manuel Vergara appeared briefly Tuesday in Yolo Superior Court in front of retired Judge Stephen Mock. Vergara is one of five men who have been arrested in the stabbing, and authorities took him into custody over the weekend on suspicion of murder and committing a crime in service to a criminal street gang.
Vergara, accompanied by attorney J. Toney, told Mock on Tuesday he planned to hire private counsel. Mock ordered Vergara to return to court Monday.
Carlos Biviescas and Anthony Daniel Rivera were also arrested over the weekend and were scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Yolo Superior Court. Martyn Alex Contreras and Zackary Thomas Sandeno appeared in court last week and will return with private attorneys Oct. 5 to continue their arraignment.
A sixth man sought in the killing, Joseph Sandeno of Vacaville, remains at large.
Yolo County prosecutors in an amended complaint filed Tuesday say Biviescas had a prison record with unspecified felony convictions in April 2011 and May 2014 in neighboring Solano County. Each conviction was filed as an enhancement in the Davis murder case.
Monday’s hearing will come a day before what would have been Gonzales’ 24th birthday. Gonzales, the youngest of four children, worked with children with special needs in his Los Angeles-area community and was a student at California State University, Dominguez Hills, in Carson, his parents said last week following Contreras and Sandeno’s court appearances.
“Someone was killed in our downtown,” Mayor Dan Wolk said Monday. “We can’t just move on and pretend nothing happened. Our actions need to back up our rhetoric.”
Wolk said Monday the moratorium and Gonzales’ death can begin “the communitywide conversation of what we want our downtown to be.”
Davis Police Department officials held a regularly scheduled semiannual meeting Sept. 23 with representatives of bars and are working to increase officers’ presence downtown. City staff, in materials accompanying the ordinance, said a new review of zoning regulations is needed.
Members of the city’s restaurant community attended the special Tuesday morning council meeting and “heard very clearly our concerns,” said Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis, who was the lone vote against the moratorium. He said leaders in the restaurant community “want to be part of the solution.”