Davis City Council Approves Lifting Ban on Bars, Nightclubs

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DAVIS --

The Davis City Council members voted unanimously to move forward with the Entertainment Permit Ordinance, which repealed the bar and nightclub moratorium set by the city last November.

The moratorium was the result of a fatal stabbing of 23-year-old Peter Gonzales, who was at KetMoRee, a downtown Thai restaurant and nightclub last September.

"After that, the community and city council said 'time out.' We put a moratorium on the opening of any new bars and restaurants," Mayor Dan Wolk said.

During the last six months, Davis has not opened or expanded any bar or nightclub. Some community members thought the ban was not the most proactive approach to finding a solution to crime.

"There was no reason for the ban, really. It's really sad that event happened, but stopping bars being there isn't stopping the violence itself. It's not the root of the problem," Davis resident, Iuri Prilepov said.

In the meantime, city planners and law enforcement drew up a proposal called the Entertainment Permit Ordinance.

It gives the city's police chief the power to accept or deny business applicants and set rules for the establishments -- such as requiring responsible server training and alcohol and drug education for nightclub staff, which many have already stared to do.

"Many people view this fundamentally as a law enforcement situation, as a security issue, as a public health issue. And I think because of that, we have our police chief, our law enforcement kind of take the lead," Wolk said.

Tuesday evening, council members voted 5-0 to move the proposal forward, which they decided would be titled the "Peter Gonzales Entertainment Permit Ordinance," to honor the victim.

However, not everything is set in stone, just yet. Specific conditions will be added and modified to cater to each establishment, such as closure times.

"What we've committed to is working with each one of the establishments, to taking a look at their past behavior, which is what we think is an indicator of what it's going to look like in the future, and determine what it's going to do to make an effect there," Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel said.

City leaders hope to take this tragedy and turn it into positive change.

"I'm not naive to think this will eliminate all the problems in downtown. No system is perfect. But I think this would go a long way of addressing that. And if it doesn't, then we can have that conversation," Wolk said.

Now that is has been adopted, the ordinance will go through a second reading on April 19.
Once finalized, the ordinance will take effect May 19th, which is when the establishments can start applying for the permit.