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Council Votes to Amend Alcohol Policy, Let Current Boundaries Be

In a 3-2 vote, the Downtown Campbell Alcohol Beverage Policy amendments were approved.

Bottom-line: the Downtown Campbell Alcohol Beverage Policy will be amended and updated to better reflect the current council.

The Campbell City Council meeting last week was the last of four meetings on the topic within a three-month span. It even spurred a between Campbell residents, decision makers and business owners.

The council voted 3-2, with Councilman Jeff Cristina and Vice Mayor Mike Kotowski dissenting.

And although this portion of the policy-creating policy may be over, the work is far from done.

Council discussed ways to address the current situation downtown, between the hours of midnight and 4:00 a.m.

A possible late night alcohol licensing fee for uses serving alcohol late at night was discussed as a possible way of raising money to pay for additional security in the downtown.

"There are real issues in the downtown right now," Mayor Jason Baker said. "We need to help defend residents from the impact of overcrowded bars."

So here's what the changes look like.

The newly amended policy:

  • Stand-alone bars/nightclubs to remain strongly discouraged (no change with current policy).
  • Provide an exemption to wine tasting/bars that close at 11 p.m. 
  • Allow existing late-night alcohol establishments to be considered for expansion, subject to particular findings that the restaurant is in good standing and that expansion will not have a material detrimental effect on health, safety and welfare of the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Allow restaurants to stay open until midnight (had previously been allowed to have closures between 11 p.m. and midnight. This just makes closing time consistent).
  • Keep boundaries as is.

The 2009 policy:

  • Discourages stand-alone bars, nightclubs and lounges
  • Discourages live entertainment
  • Limits bar seating to 25 percent of total seating
  • Sets midnight as the latest a new restaurant can stay open late if serving alcohol
  • Policy applies to new establishments or older establishments looking to intensify or expand their late night service.
  • Includes within the "downtown" boundaries Winchester Boulevard and E. Campbell Avenue.

Here is a breakdown of what the last few month's worth of meetings, testimonies and outcomes have looked like.

First study session: July 19

Campbell Mayor said one of the reasons to take a second look at the policy is to "make sure it reflects this council."

The issue of the policy came up, in part, because of a pending application for late-night operations at the former Gaslighter Theater with a proposed 500-person total occupancy, which, if approved will double the number of people in the downtown late at night.

Similar applications for expansions from and are expected.

Several downtown Campbell residents came out and urged the council to leave the policy be.

Subcommittee meeting: Aug. 11

Campbell Patch did not cover this meeting. Although it is his opinion, Campbell Patch blogger Joe Hernandez and video tape the entire meeting, and the Campbell Reporter also summed up the meeting.

Second study session: Sept. 6

"I’m a 40-year homeowner. I have a real estate investment hobby. I’m on the both sides of the problem. I have watched it grow from a two horse town to a really professional place. Our downtown growth has been spectacular. We’ve managed to keep drinking out of the problem. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it," --Rudy Hertz.

The Campbell City Council listened as more than 20 residents and business owners gave their insight into the contentious issue of easing rules affecting establishments serving alcohol in Campbell's downtown.

"There are two Campbells that are shaping up here: Campbell by day and Campbell by night."

Kotowski vocalized something that was surfacing with every testimonial given, whether from a downtown resident or a business owner: A divide between residents who see Campbell as a family-oriented community and those who see Campbell as an up-and-coming place with a lively night life.

"We have a chasm here," Kotowski said. "We need balance."

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