Council votes to limit downtown alcohol problems

Editor's note: This corrects who gave the dissenting vote in the street performances issue.

The Huntington Beach City Council has directed its staff to revise a resolution to limit alcohol-related problems downtown.

The council voted 4 to 2 in favor of bringing back the resolution for revision after a heated argument among those who wanted to ease the restrictions and council members Connie Boardman and Joe Shaw, who wanted to maintain the status quo. Councilman Devin Dwyer was absent from Tuesday's meeting.

"The downtown area is a neighborhood and we don't treat it like a neighborhood," Shaw said.

The resolution, adopted in January 2010, limited the hours of operation of businesses serving alcohol. It required all new establishments serving alcohol to close by midnight.

But depending on who is reading it, the resolution can be interpreted differently.

Mayor Joe Carchio and Councilman Keith Bohr, who brought up the issue for discussion and a vote, said the resolution wasn't meant to stop restaurants from serving food beyond midnight.

"It's awful hard for me to accept a restaurant two doors from me selling food until 2 o'clock in the morning" when alcohol-serving restaurants have to close earlier, Carchio said.

This issue directly coincides with Bomburger restaurant's request to serve alcohol and the Planning Commission's refusal to grant such a permit. Bomburger, a walk-in burger joint, asked for a permit to serve alcohol until 10 p.m., but wanted to maintain its 2 a.m. closing time.

Police Chief Ken Small had no problem with Bomburger's request because he said it's good to have someone serving food late at night to allow those under the influence of alcohol to grab a bite before getting in their cars.

Bohr appealed the Planning Commission's decision regarding Bomburger.

City staff will work on revising the language of the resolution, making it clear that the restriction applies to serving alcohol and not food. It will also give some flexibility to the Police Department, allowing it to waive restrictions if it sees fit.

The resolution will be brought back with the revision for a vote at a future date.

Street performances curtailed

In other business, the council voted to restrict street performers' acts, territory and the hours they can perform.

Street performers will not be able to perform within 10 feet of restaurants and stores. Performers will also not be allowed to use tools that might harm innocent bystanders, such as knives or swords. Performers will also have to stop by 11 p.m.

Street performer "Lucky John" Domingue told the City Council that while he agrees some restrictions should be implemented, they are going the wrong way about it.

Councilman Matt Harper voted no.

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