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Council eases stance on restaurant hours

The Huntington Beach City Council voted Monday to ease up on a proposed zoning change focused on new downtown bars and restaurants that sell alcohol.

Council members amended a zoning change, proposed in June, that would require new eateries in the area to close at 10 p.m. On a 4-3 vote, the council altered the proposal to allow new restaurants in the area to stay open until midnight — but they'll have to stop selling alcohol at 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Older establishments would be exempt.

Mayor Matthew Harper and council members Connie Boardman and Dave Sullivan dissented.

Councilwoman Jill Hardy said she liked the new suggestion because it would provide an option to those who are looking to grab a late snack.

"The purpose is to change the atmosphere downtown," she said. "By defining what a restaurant is versus a bar, we can do that with the hours of alcohol sales without restricting the hours of operation for restaurants."

Sullivan said he'd prefer that new businesses close at 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays as a way to prevent "problem bars" from setting up shop downtown.

Councilman Joe Carchio said that having the businesses close early would cause them to lose revenue on appetizers and other food dishes.

"I just don't think we need to handcuff our businesses," he said.

Sullivan replied that he would want to handcuff the people who come to the downtown area "cutting up Marines and acting like idiots and ruining the reputation of our city."

He was referring to an incident in March during which Marines, on leave from Camp Pendleton, reportedly came to the aid of a fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who was being attacked.

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