Delay Likely on Santa Ana Alcohol and Entertainment Law

Santa Ana officials are set to recommend that the City Council delay until Feb. 4 a vote on a proposed ordinance that would establish new rules for businesses that want to sell alcohol and offer night entertainment.

The recommendation to postpone the council decision comes after several residents and business owners Monday night asked the Santa Ana Planning Commission to delay its consideration of the ordinance. The commission went ahead and approved the ordinance, paving the way for a first council vote on Dec. 3.

The proposed ordinance is the result of a yearlong effort to clarify rules for businesses that sell alcohol and offer night entertainment. The process began because entrepreneurs who wanted to open new nightlife venues were confused about the city’s vague rules governing such businesses, city officials said.

The new rules are clearer, but they create more burdens for nightclub owners, especially those like the Yost Theater and The Observatory Orange County that sell alcohol but also cater to underage clientele, said the club owners and a consultant for Downtown Inc., the booster organization.

The new law creates a permit for "entertainment" that is administered by the police department and is separate from the conditional use permit for alcohol sales. It means that places like the Yost and The Observatory, which sell alcohol and provide amplified music, would not be able to allow underage customers after 10 p.m.

The new ordinance would effectively put both clubs out of business, the owners said.

In an email to businesses, community groups and others, Planning Director Jay Trevino wrote that the council’s three-member public safety committee was supposed to review the ordinance Tuesday night, but the meeting was cancelled because of a “problem with the public notice.”

“We are working to reschedule the Public Safety Committee meeting for a date in January, and will let you know as soon as the date is confirmed. Consequently, we will recommend that the City Council postpone its review of the alcohol ordinance from December 3 to February 4,” Trevino wrote.

— ADAM ELMAHREK

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