WALNUT CREEK (CBS SF) – The Walnut Creek City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a controversial nuisance ordinance that will hold all alcohol-serving establishments in the city to the same standards, a city spokeswoman said Wednesday.

City officials said the ordinance will give city leaders more control over problem bars, such as those that consistently over-serve patrons or are venues for violence and other criminal activity such as vandalism.

Any business that repeatedly violates the regulations could be subject to a hearing before the Planning Commission, which would decide whether to place additional restrictions on the establishment.

City staff said the ordinance levels the playing field for all businesses in town that serve alcohol, since many such establishments were exempt from regulations adopted in 2004 that tightened nuisance rules.

The new ordinance, which makes all bars subject to the 2004 rules, was approved in the wake of a series of violent brawls at downtown bars.

The council’s vote also followed months of opposition from local bar owners, many of whom say the new law infringes on their rights, is unnecessary and could hurt their businesses.

Bar owners again voiced their opposition to the ordinance for about an hour during Tuesday’s meeting, city spokeswoman Gail Vassar said.

A group of about 15 alcohol-serving business owners joined together earlier this year to form the Walnut Creek Hospitality Group, which threatened in February to sue the city if the ordinance passed.

A lawyer for the group could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

City leaders have said that the vast majority of Walnut Creek bar owners should not be concerned by the new ordinance, since it will only penalize businesses that consistently violate nuisance-based standards.


(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)



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