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May 8, 2012

Fights, crowd control problems at downtown bars

In the days after the Walnut Creek City Council approved a new nuisance-based ordinance for regulating establishments that dispense alcohol, two businesses seemed determined to put the new law to the test.

Walnut Creek Patch reported that a fight broke out at the Redux Lounge on Locust Street early Sunday morning, which resulted in two people being arrested and a 26-year-old Vacaville man going to the hospital with head injuries.

The Walnut Creek Police Department said that a patrol officer saw the man leave Redux, bleeding from the head at 1 a.m. Sunday. The man said another man, who also had been drinking, attacked him with a bottle. The assailant, an Oakland resident, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and possession of cocaine, Patch reported. Another Vacaville man, who had accompanied the man to the bar, was arrested on suspicion of failing to comply with orders given to him by a police officer.

The Walnut Creek Police Association posted on Facebook Tuesday morning that an unauthorized post-concert party at Vice Ultra Lounge got out of control. The association says that Vice Ultra Lounge on Arroyo Way was supposed to get pre-authorization from police to hold such a large event  but was denied. The club went ahead and held the party anyway.

Here's what the association says on Facebook about how things got crazy:

"Several officers had to be called in on overtime to handle the expected crowds. After the concert at the Concord Pavilion experienced a mini-crime wave of sorts with several arrests. A parolee was arrested outside the club after running from officers. When he was caught officers found he was in possession of a loaded semi-automatic handgun, a high capacity magazine and narcotics. More people were arrested for felony warrants and DUIs. There were reports of people stealing merchandise from a local store, bouncers from the involved nightclub assaulting a subject and people looking into vehicles around Civic Park. Later in the morning officers made a traffic stop and arrested a subject in a stolen vehicle that was wanted for carjacking and armed robbery. He also had a firearm in his possession."

"By the way," the association added, "the main performers that all this mess was over never showed up at the club."

Owners of bars have complained about the new ordinance being "vague, ambiguous and overboard in its application," according to Walnut Creek Patch.

The ordinance provides a legal structure requiring all 103 businesses serving alcohol in Walnut Creek to adhere to performance standards. If a bar keeps out of trouble, it shouldn't have any trouble staying open and maintaining its current hours of operation. But if Walnut Creek police have to repeatedly go to a certain business to break up fights, arrest drug dealers, respond to noise complaints or to drunks urinating in public, the city can issue a notice, telling the bar to clean up its act.

Under the ordinance, businesses with repeat violations would be subject to restrictions, such as curtailing of hours for selling alcohol. To go after a business, the city must compile a report, noting violations, then serve a notice that gives the business a chance to take corrective actions. There is an administrative process for a business to appeal a notice or order to close. 

Doesn't sound too vague, ambiguous or overboard to me.

As I've said before, I support the city making the regulation of alcohol-serving establishments in downtown a public health and safety issue.

One of my pet peeves is how the bar owners don't accept one reality of the business they are in. They are in the business of dispensing a drug. Yes, alcohol is classified as a drug in health circles.

Whether it’s dressed up as glass of fine red wine, a boutique brew or an artistically designed cocktail, drinks containing alcohol alter mind and mood and play with some of the same pleasure-producing neurotransmitters affected by opioid pain killers, heroin, cocaine and marijuana. 

And, alcohol is by many measures the most dangerous drug out there. It causes more harm to individuals, families and societies worldwide than crack cocaine, heroin and other legal and illegal drugs, according to a 2010 study published by the British medical journal The Lancet. 


Anywhere from 15 to 17 million of people who drink are alcoholics or have drinking problem, and about 40 percent of violent crimes committed in the United States involve alcohol. Those are just some of the many examples of why bar owners need to get over themselves and get over this image of themselves as being in the benign-sounding "hospitality" industry. They are serving and marketing a product that has the potential to cause individuals and the community a lot of harm.  The recent events downtown illustrate the potential for harm arising from businesses focused on selling liquor.







5 comments:

Paula Miller said...

The naughty boy owners of several of the more obnoxious bars are daring the City Council and WCPD to 'come and get us'. And by their actions they are also thumbing their noses at the residents of WC.

Good assessment of the situation Martha. Let's hope that if enough local voices are raised the city fathers/mothers will stop dancing around the real problems and take real action to stop this type of behavior and lack of respect for the laws.

Thud said...

The inevitable fatal shooting or stabbing will no doubt put things in their true perspective....the city has a problem.

Martha Ross, formerly AKA Soccer Mom said...

As I've said before, I am no Prohibitionist and appreciate a nice wine or martini. But I was pretty startled to look at the numbers on crime, health problems, addiction, family problems. I looked at the numbers back when Walnut Creek was debating whether to allow a medical marijuana dispensary in town. Some city leaders expressed "discomfort" with the idea of a marijuana dispensary in town, concern about associated health and safety issues. Well, in the meantime, downtown has a high concentration of businesses selling alcohol. What is the nastiest, deadliest, costliest drug in human society? The one that kills the most people through violence, accidents, health consequences? What drug costs the most in terms of health care costs? It's alcohol. Talk to most addiction rehab centers around here? What are most people being treated for? Alcohol addiction, though addiction to LEGAL prescription drugs are also on the rise. Most of us don't want to admit that this substance that most of us enjoy has the potential to cause harm -- a lot of harm.

Limeridger said...

Again out of towners are the problem. This time Vacaville and Oakland. We want people from out of town to frequent our businesses, but many towns including WC used to have alcohol serving establishments without the wave of incidents the "new" bars in WC seem to have. Bar fights are probably inevitable, but not with loaded guns and with people who will fight with the police when told to leave. Its just this type of societal degradation that caused people to flee cities for the suburbs...

Anonymous said...

We better see you picketing the art and wine festival this weekend or it's game on