The San Luis Obispo City Council, in a 4-1 vote Tuesday night, endorsed an effort to curb safety problems and other nuisances caused by excessive drinking downtown.
Councilwoman Kathy Smith dissented.
The new rules, which give the city more oversight of establishments serving alcohol, have been years in the making.
The changes will require new bars, nightclubs and restaurants serving alcohol after 11 p.m. to have a manager on-site when entertainment is performed, install a video surveillance system at all entrances and exits, and provide training for employees on responsible serving practices, among other requirements.
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The regulations will be attached to a conditional-use permit for all new businesses that sell alcohol.
The changes approved by the council include a new rule that will require restaurants that serve alcohol after 11 p.m. to get an administrative use permit. The permit adds more supervision for businesses that “morph” from restaurants into night clubs or bars after their kitchens close.
New liquor stores will also be required to obtain a permit. Previously, they were treated like grocery stores and not required to have one.
Existing businesses will not be required to obtain the new permit, but will be monitored under an ordinance that could trigger the new standards if they do not operate responsibly.
That process includes a meeting before the Downtown Association and an administrative hearing officer empowered to impose restrictions on any business that fails to operate safely or curb nuisances such as litter, public urination and unruly behavior.
Any alcohol venue found to have committed repeat violations could lose its grandfathered status and be required to obtain the conditional-use permit in order to continue operating.
In 2009, the council paid $22,000 for a report by a Berkeley consultant that assessed the number of police responses in the city and showed a disproportionate number of such events at or near downtown liquor establishments.
At the time, the council considered levying a fee on those businesses to help pay for additional police time — causing an outcry from those business owners.
In response, a conglomeration of bar and restaurant owners formed the Safe Nightlife Association to address those concerns.
That group has since launched a late-night transportation service for bar goers, provided a downtown cleanup after late-night use and required all servers of alcohol to be trained in safe serving practices.
The proposed process for regulating existing businesses will return to the City Council in one year for review.
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.