No moratorium on new bars in downtown SLO, City Council decides

City Council cites nightlife safety efforts in its decision to not limit businesses that serve alcohol late

acornejo@thetribunenews.comAugust 21, 2013 

The area in front of MoTav on Higuera Street in downtown San Luis Obispo is packed with people in the wee hours of a Saturday morning in May 2011.


New bars and restaurants serving alcohol in downtown San Luis Obispo won’t be banned.

The San Luis Obispo City Council unanimously agreed  Tuesday not to pursue a bar moratorium — an idea first introduced last year as the council grappled with how to gain more control of bars and late-night restaurants and the sometimes unruly behavior associated with late-night crowds.

On Tuesday, the council praised recent efforts by the city and the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association, which created the Food, Beverage and Services Committee, formerly the Safe Nightlife Association, to institute programs such as cleanup efforts and safe transportation

Councilman John Ashbaugh commended the downtown business owners who have strategized and implemented efforts to combat problems.

“There has been an honest effort by professional, well-organized and sincere business owners,” he said.

The Food, Beverage and Services Committee, which consists of business owners of bars and restaurants, has ensured safe late-night transportation and provided portable toilets, cleanup crews and extra trash pickup during high-activity weekends, among other efforts.

The Downtown Association said it opposed the moratorium because the proposal violated personal property rights and because late-night behaviors were already being addressed by the committee and increased enforcement by the police department.

“The Downtown Association believes that, in large part, the perception of a crisis is truly that — perception; the reality is that downtown is a college town with a high level of activity, but it is not on the verge of ruination,” Deborah Cash, executive director of the Downtown Association, wrote in a memo to the council.

Councilwoman Kathy Smith agreed that the moratorium would put too much constraint on people who own property downtown.

“It’s not right for us to be telling property owners how to use their properties,” she said.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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