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January 23, 2012

Walnut Creek to tackle its night life problems: Thank goodness

Over the past few years, I've posted a number of stories about Walnut Creek's  night life, here on Crazy in Suburbia and on Walnut Creek Patch.

There have been the stories about fights breaking out, usually in front of a few well-known spots that we can pretty much refer to as The Usual Suspects.  Their names pop up often enough in the police log and in press reports. These establishments aren't getting attention for their food (although one serves some pretty good small plates and desserts and has a great wine list) or for their entertainment. They gain public attention for  the  packs of thugs they seem to attract. These thugs, fueled on testosterone, booze and probably other substances can't seem to help but start  up fights, usually over some thug's perception of being disrespected. The fights might start in the bars but often spill out onto the streets. The Walnut Creek police have to respond en masse.

The latest incident on the morning of January 8 involved a fight that got out of hand at a private party for some rapper at Shiro Restaurant and Lounge. The fight was big and rough enough that one officer was punched, one suspect was stunned with a Taser and outside assistance was called in from the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department and the California Highway Patrol.

When I read about his fracas, I thought, this could get dangerous. Seriously.

It sounds like -- at last -- the city  wants to get down and  deal with the ongoing problems around  Walnut Creek's night life. The city will hold a special study session Tuesday at which council members will be briefed on previous city efforts to address the issue and on the history of how bars and restaurants get permits in the city to serve alcohol, the controversy over bar closing hours, restaurants' concerns about losing revenue from early closing times, fairness in how the use permits are issued, and debates about whether establishments should be required to take on more responsibility for providing security.

The city council will hold the special session from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Boundary Oak Golf Course. The morning will be taken up with discussion about the impacts to service with the sunsetting of Walnut Creek's redevelopment agency and  a study of the economic impacts of multi-family housing in downtown.

The nightlife discussion will take place after the council's noon lunch time break.

I hope the city and downtown bars can come up with some way to get a handle on the night life scene. I like Walnut Creek, I live in Walnut Creek and work in downtown. A lot of smart, talented, hard-working people strive to make Walnut Creek a great city to live in and to visit, for dining, shopping, and culture and entertainment at the library, the movie theater and the Lesher Center for the Arts.

I don't have a problem with Walnut Creek having a night life, even one that includes clubs opened after midnight. I was young and in my 20s once, and that's what my friends liked to do a weekends, go out, stay out late, and go to clubs to dance, socialize.

Back then, Walnut Creek was pretty dull, so on weekends, we would go to clubs in Berkeley, Oakland or San Francisco. Some of those spots were in not-so-savory parts of those towns. But I never remember feeling like I was going into a place with dangerous, angry, knife-toting people -- even when my friend took me into some heavy-duty South of Market gay leather bar (but then those boys were there to make love, not war)

My understanding is that there are some establishments in downtown Walnut Creek that are open to 2 a.m, serve alcohol, get good crowds, and rarely have problems.. So what are these places doing to manage their crowds? Or what kind of ambiance have they created that makes the thugs head elsewhere?

It would be good to hear from these places about how they manage their customers and how they have been proactive in dealing with security.

I'm all for Walnut Creek having a night life, but this town doesn't need or deserve a night life where fights break out practically very month -- with the risk that a bar patron or police officer can get seriously hurt.

1 comment:

heykhanes said...

I worked at a place in N. walnut creek for two years that closed at 2 (technically, everyone out by 1:45). I think the bar's small size, bouncer to patron ratio, and the bartenders' ability to both foster a sense of community within the bar and also to know when to cut people off all helped the place have minimal problems.

Then again, it may just be the location, and we escaped most of the downtown problems by not being downtown. It would be a shame for places that manage to create a fun but safe nightlife atmosphere to be forced to close earlier due to a few problem bars that clearly need to change something about how they're doing business.