April 19, 2009

Police fed up with late-night drunks, so the city is working up a plan to regulate hours that bars and restaurant serve alcohol

On Friday and Saturday nights, crowds of liquored-up 20somethings—many St. Mary’s and Diablo Valley College students—roam downtown Walnut Creek, moving from restaurant to bar.

"Largely as a result of over-consumption of alcohol, police must deal with drunken driving, fights, and intoxication of bar patrons,” says a city report. “Numerous arrests occur between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.” Police have to stay busy dealing with these drunks, who often taken their revelry into nearby neighborhoods and parks. With police busy downtown, there are not enough officers to keep watch on the rest of the city.

What’s the city to do?

Well, the city has studied current city and state laws regarding bars, restaurants, and shops that sell beer, wine, and spirits, either to on-site patrons or to customers to drink at home—but hopefully not in public or while driving.

And it seems that the best solution will be for the city, the Downtown Business Association, and restaurant and bar owners to work together to come up with regulations for hours of operation. Specifically, the city would like to figure out a way for restaurant and bar owners to stagger their closing times, in order to reduce “the number of intoxicated persons leaving the downtown area at any one time,” the report says. “This reduces the number of police officers needed to manage the downtown and increases the number of officers available to patrol outlying areas of the city.”

City staff will present this report to the Planning Commission at its Thursday night meeting, and says the city will be the subject of a City Council study session on May 5.

Some of the background and facts surrounding this issue are interesting in a, Gee- I-didn’t-realize-that way:

--By state alcohol regulatory standards, Walnut Creek is way oversaturated with bars, restaurants, and shops in the business of selling alcohol. According to state law, described by the department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC), you can only have one “on-site alcohol consumption license” per 10,000 residents in an area. Oops! In 2004, Walnut Creek, which has roughly 63,000 residents, had 93 bars and restaurants where people can drink on-site and 17 stores or gas stations that sell alcohol for off-site use. The city reached state “saturation” levels with nine on-site establishments and six off-site businesses.

--But can you imagine downtown without its restaurant and bar scene? The city was able to bypass these state limits by showing that they are a “matter of public necessity and convenience” and by working with its Planning Department on coming up with specific conditions for granting bars, restaurants, and stores liquor licenses. Those conditions fall under a 2004 ordinance that grants these businesses a conditional use permit.

--Most of the Walnut Creek’s newer bars and restaurants cater to the upscale, over 30, professional crowd. These people make up the majority of 200 to 300 people out and about in the downtown core area on a weekend night. Most of this older professional crowd head home by midnight, leaving the younger group to take over. And in this younger crowd—young ladies (and cougars) listen up!—the ratio of men to women is 2 to 1.

--Because of certain legal loopholes, many bars and restaurants don’t have to abide by the city ordinance on closing by 12:30 p.m. Some bars and restaurants that stay open until 2 a.m.—per ABC rules—include Spin, Dan’s, and Tiki Tom’s.

--The police say that most restaurants and bars are willing to come up with solutions to deal with downtown overcrowding and over-drinking. And most restaurants close between 10 and 12:30 p.m.

--However, there are a few unnamed establishments whose patrons cause the most trouble and require the most police response. These are also the establishments that don’t have to abide by city ordinance on closing time and may stay open until 2 a.m.—per ABC rules.


Anonymous said...

"However, there are a few unnamed establishments whose patrons cause the most trouble and require the most police response. "

Are you talking about "Spin, Dan’s, and Tiki Tom’s."

Don't censor yourself that is what make blogs so useful, the freedom of speech. We as the public have the ultimate say on if a business survives. If we need to not patronize any particular type of business the so be it. I have a growing list of places that will not get my money due to poor customer service.

Soccer Mom said...

Dear 6:02 p.m.
I'm not censoring myself. The city report I'm citing delicately avoided naming those establishments whose patrons caused the most trouble. However, this report contained implications, and I should link to it on my story, which I will do in a few minutes. If it the names had been in the report, I'd be giving you the info.

Sounds like your list might coincide with what the police would say. In my humble opinion.

Meanwhile, a totally unrelated question! Was Tiki Tom's the site of one of the suburbs local gay bars? A piano lounge?

Just happened to be talking to a guy who said one was still operating close to downtown Walnut Creek. (I remember going there, back in my college days with a couple gay friends. Believe me, it had nothing on the bars in the Castro or South of Market...)

He talked about the one in the building that now houses the office of Diablo magazine, and of a lesbian bar in Danville. ...

Sorry, just a bit of local history that I am particularly interested in.

21stCenturyMom said...

Every time I see the term 'cougar' I shudder. It is derogatory and sexist. We fully accept middle aged men going out for fun which probably includes trying to attract younger women but a woman past the age of 35 out for a good time gets a *nudge nudge wink wink* special name. Double standards are just so tiresome.

As for the drinking problem it's just a continuation of the absurd drinking habits of the 21st Century. We used to at least pretend that being sociable was part of the process but it seems that it's all about getting as inebriated a possible as quickly as possible.

Anonymous said...

I would love to go out and have a special name. I am instead called, "Dirty Old Man", "Sugardaddy", or "Old Bastard".

Anonymous said...

If the WCPD issues as many arrests and citations as they say than this is a perfect source of revenue to pay for patrolling the rest of the town.

Anonymous said...

My sources told me that Tiki Tom's was a gay bar before it was sold and became Tiki Tom's. It was mainly an older crowd.

G in WC

Anonymous said...

I heard Tiki Tom's was a piano lounge that catered an older more sophisticated gay crowd. It went in before Simon's closed. Eddie's piano lounge or something. I also heard there was a lesbian bar in Danville, and then a dance club in the building where Diablo magazine is. Maybe all the suburban gays don't need to out cruising anymore. They're home helping their kids with homework.

Anonymous said...

before it was tiki toms it was called the pink lady

Anonymous said...

The bar you are thinking of near Diablo Magazine was called Just Rewards. There is another lifestyle lounge behind 7-11 called 1220.

I have been a vendor for many of the establishments dntn that have been the source of a majority of the problems. I know of one that you mentioned, Dan's, has always tried to work with the city.

The original owners of O'Kearny's had a great rapport with the police. They would pick up the cab fare for their customers, and the cops loved her for it. She sold it to the guys that own Spin, and it went to sh*t. There are new owners now and the old owners are back aswell. It's not a perfect world, but some of the owners work hard, and are onsite during the late hours to help curb the problems

Anonymous said...

From old time hetero,

Tiki Tom's was a Gay bar whose name was not on the establishment. Before that it was just a neighborhood bar named the Pink Gable. Was there for years under that name.

There was and is still a Gay bar near Civic and Pine. Very quiet and has been there since the early 80's.

The 3rd Gay bar was in fact where Diablo Mag now hangs out.

Also was one in the old Montgomery Ward shopping center near the Century Theater.

The only problems these bars ever had were from youthful homophobics who wanted to prove their "manhood" and incidents were few. The bar owners worked with the Police to maintain order so most people in town never knew they were there. Good for them.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE gay bars. I miss going to them ever since moving to the suburbs, and I am a straight woman. Where are the gays hanging out in WC? Do they mind if straight women drink in their bars?

Or better yet, do they have any mixed gay/straight bars in WC?

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, when pot is legalized, the fighting will be greatly reduced.

Marble Coaster said...

I also heard there was a lesbian bar in Danville, and then a dance club in the building where Diablo magazine is.

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