Jul 29, 2014
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Campbell City Council Studies Downtown Alcohol Beverage Policy

The council takes a second look at the current policy.

Campbell City Council Studies Downtown Alcohol Beverage Policy

Tonight's Campbell City Council meeting begins with a study session around the much debated Downtown Alcohol Beverage Policy.

The policy was first reintroduced at the City Council Chambers on July 19.

Campbell Patch will be live blogging the meeting here.

6:02 p.m.

Kirk Heinrichs:

  • There was a subcommittee meeting consisting of Mayor Jason Baker and Councilman Rich Waterman, identifying changes.
  • There were 15 members of the public that spoke.
  • The recommendations include: bars/nightclubs to remain strongly discouraged 9no change with current policy); provide an exemption to wine bars/tasting that close at 11 p.m.; allow existing late night alcohol establishments to be considered for expansion subject to findings: the establishment is currently operating and in good standing, will not have detrimental effect on health, safety and welfare of the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods;allow to have restaurants open to 12 a.m. (change now is 11 p.m.); allow dance floor and promotion of live entertainment in restaurants but retain 11 p.m. limit; modify boundaries of policy to exclude Winchester and east Campbell avenue plan areas.

Question by Rich Waterman: Why 11 p.m.?

Heinrich: What constituted late night operation. The question arose, is there a need for a restaurant to serve meals at 12 a.m.?

6:16 p.m.

Councilman Evan Low: What of the Odd Fellows building and application?

Heinrich: It's my understanding that there will be a very large outdoor dining area. A parking exception was approved.

The applicant could not provide the required number of parking required so we used the criteria for downtown. The proposed building could fall under that. Cannot provide adequate parking on site.

Low: I just want to make a note of that. Potentially have new business coming in to the Odd Fellows site.

6:24 p.m.

Landlords of 400 E. Campbell Ave. (Gaslighter): We want to know everyone here in support of our tenant who has a conditional use permit submitted to the city requesting an opportunity to serve late night alcohol. How we arrived at this point. Where the project has been, from a landlord since 2008.

Going back, we put the investment group together. Restore a jewel of the downtown. The building was on the verge of being condemned. We moved quickly, retrofitted the building and starting planning on bringing a tenant into the space. We pursued this for a number of years, a traditional restaurant business to the fullest extent. We have invested just under $1 million to date.

Essentially, there are sections that make it impossible to open a business. This operation will be open for Sunday brunch. Essentially, we want to come to council to either request an exemption to this ordinance or see changes made: to 1,2 and 3. We find this section discriminatory, arbitrary.

A great example: Straits in Santana Row, you can't tell the difference between bar seating and restaurant seats.

Our only option with the Gaslighter is for it to remain as is. I'm a Campbell resident and we want to make it a viable part of the downtown.

6:39 p.m.

Low: Please, if you have some ideas or suggestions, we would like to hear them rather than hearing that this has gone too far.

City Attorney: Council really does not have any applications before it. Some are pending. Not in a position to address specific developments.

6:40 p.m.

Rudy Hertz: I’m a 40-year homeowner. I have a real estate investment hobby. I’m on the both sides of the problem. I have watched it grow from a two horse town to a really professional place. Our downtown growth has been spectacular. We’ve managed to keep drinking out of the problem. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I’d like to leave it alone for the time being. i read the police report and can’t help but notice that 75 percent of the incidents are drinking or drug related. When these neighborhoods begin to deteriorate, it affects everyone. I think we should make some exceptions for the Gaslighter.

6:44 p.m.

Joelle Hernandez: I might remind the council that the residents did not bring up to change, the council did. You are all public officials and were voted in by the citizens of Campbell.

I want to know how changing the alcohol policy is going to keep up with most of you have said you love about Campbell? The small town feel. Where are the 500 cars coming to the Gaslighter going to park?

The town of Los Gatos is dealing with this right now.

6:50 p.m.

William Gates: An attorney for a prospective tenant (Gaslighter), it’s a beautiful building and possibility to be registered as a historic structure. The current policy prohibits us to even get started.

The discouragement of any bar/night club makes it near impossible for a business to get started. We can’t compete with those businesses that are already open past those hours. Conduct of the people, parking, etc. have all been brought up but my client has no problems with the alcoholic beverages problems of state of California and very few problems at his other night clubs.

6:57 p.m.

David Steel: Did you know that when bars close, they don’t stop drinking, they go on to the next establishment to continue drinking.

What I have issue with is the last point, removing the E. Campbell Avenue extension because it’s considered to be the portal between downtown and the Pruneyard. If you remove that, bars and drinking establishments are welcome.

7:01 p.m.

Neil Collins: On July 19, the city council decided to look at the alcohol policy. Of course, this opened the flood gates of debate. Quantitative survey. Nearly 200 responses from neighborhood associations and business associations, specifically the downtown business association.

We feel that the downtown is a unique entity with high density of commercial and retail. I’m not naïve to think that there shouldn’t be a policy for those areas (E. Campbell Avenue and Winchester Boulevard) but I feel that trying to make the downtown policy extend to that is not the solution. We want them to be a success because their town says they are  good business. I think we are pretty close on the same page as council.

7:12 p.m.

Katherin H.: I currently live downtown with my family. I hope the council doesn't amend the policy. What’s proposed tonight does not make sense. In a time where our city has put jobs on hold I don’t see our city have money to mediate these issues.

I am proud to be a resident. I have concerns for that balance. Lately, the evening vibe in downtown has changed. After dark these days, Campbell is not a family friendly environment.

I'm going to read the statement of values: in it, community. You each swore that you would serve Campbell, you are a stewart to the community’s safety, needs and concerns of all of its residents.

I hope that you do indeed act as a steward for our community.

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