Encinitas Council rejects alcohol ordinance despite protests

ENCINITAS - The Encinitas City Council voted 3-2 Wednesday against passing an ordinance that would bring new regulations to businesses that serve alcohol. 

The proposed ordinance would have set up a system for reporting complaints. A first offense against a business would generate a warning, then a fine, and then a hearing before an administrative officer, rather than going to court. 

"Before we put in another law, I wanted to be sure the existing laws we have are being enforced effectively in order to address the problem," said Councilman Tony Kranz.  

Kranz said the City will receive quarterly updates. If the complaints continue, the ordinance can be put back on the agenda for another vote.

Dozens of neighbors, who are worried downtown Encinitas will turn into Pacific Beach, spoke at the meeting.

Shirley Finch lives two blocks from Highway 101 and said she is fed up with drunks.

"We find vomit in the sidewalks in the streets," she said. "We find litter, condoms, underwear."

Finch and roughly 400 other residents signed a petition urging the city to pass a so called "deemed approved ordinance." 

Bob Gattinella, president of the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce, said the ordinance would be bad for business.

"Once this becomes a regulation, it can affect businesses throughout the whole city and that's what we are worried about," said Gattinella.

Dale Polselli owns the Saloon and Shelter bars and is a member of the newly formed Encinitas Hospitality Association. The group of bar owners is trying to improve the downtown area by addressing the alcohol complaints. 

"It impacts regulations that can be abused by certain interest groups or members of the community that are really trying to legislate morality," said Polselli.

The city did vote to fill a vacant code enforcement officer with a full-time officer who will dedicate half his time to alcohol problems.

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