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Proposal targets rowdy drinkers on peninsula

Law would require some establishments that serve alcohol after 11 p.m. to get a new license.

January 08, 2011|By Mike Reicher, mike.reicher@latimes.com

There's just something about living by the beach that makes people a little more rowdy, especially when they're walking home late from Balboa Peninsula bars.

That's what Mary Bryant has surmised after the many years she's listened to drunks yelling as she tries to sleep in her West Newport bedroom, she said.

Now, the police officials are hoping they'll have another way to control just how rowdy people get.

On Tuesday the City Council will vote on a new law that would require new bar and restaurant owners who serve alcohol and want to stay open past 11 p.m., allow dancing or live entertainment, to apply for a license with the Police Department.

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With the cops able to revoke licenses for misbehaving bars, it places police brass in the delicate position of balancing business needs with neighbors' complaints and public safety concerns.

"We don't want to stand in the way of business," said Capt. Craig Fox of the Newport Beach Police. "But we have to balance it with the safety and security of the community, and our service levels."

Even the sleepless Bryant, who hadn't read the new proposal, was reluctant to support more rules for businesses."It is a tough problem," she said. "We cannot have too many rules and regulations. If we could just live within the law and be good neighbors…"

The new license would allow the city to control noise, loitering, litter, disorderly conduct and parking concerns more strictly. It was prompted by problems of overcrowding, assaults, public drunkenness, public urination, and others nuisances, according to an April report by city staff.

Ali Zadeh, owner of the Port Restaurant & Bar in Corona del Mar, has dealt with angry neighbors. Right now, he has to close at midnight, but he applied with the city to stay open until 1 a.m. Going through the current administrative process was a hassle, he said.

"It would be more clear, at least people would know what they have to go through," Zadeh said.

Operating hours and other restrictions would be set on a case-by-case basis, Capt. Fox said. When reviewing a new application, the police would send an investigator to look at the business owner's past practices, and evaluate any problems with the current operation.

They'll evaluate how close businesses are to residences, at crime statistics, and if there is already a concentration of bars or nightclubs.

An example of an area that gets rowdy is the peninsula, Fox said: "It does draw a lot of police resources."

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