Alcohol Restrictions Proposed in Encinitas

City leaders looking into closing bars at midnight

City leaders in Encinitas are proposing stricter alcohol rules for the city in hopes of decreasing alcohol related incidents.

On Wednesday, the Encinitas City Council will consider putting a moratorium on new liquor licenses for 45 days. Another idea being proposed is closing the bars earlier, from 2 a.m. to midnight.

Changes to existing licenses would not be allowed, but it would give city staff a chance to review its current laws and the legality of any permanent changes.

The Sheriff's Department stated from 2008 to 2012, deputies responded to 13 percent more service calls at Encinitas Bars.

Karen Henderson, who's had her business in Encinitas for almost 35 years, is among a group of business owners who've had it with the growing amount of unruly, late night behavior tied to drinking.

“Property damage, vandalism, we're hearing a lot of things on the street now, in terms of noises and phrases and utterances that are maybe not what everyone wants to hear,” she said. “I think maybe we have to some experimental planning, or I think we have to try some different things and see what does work.”

But bars and restaurant owners are crying foul, and say they're not responsible for underage beach drinking and vagrancy connected to the issue. The issue is dividing business owners in Encinitas.
“Who's responsible for those problems? If it's the restaurants, then what restaurants are responsible for them,” said the owner of D Street Bar and Grille. “What bars? Let’s focus on the people that are actually the problem, not generalizing it into a lump sum.”

He also said the plan could impact the livelihood of the 29 business that sell alcohol in Encinitas.

“Its a slippery slope,” he said. “Closing bars at midnight. Closing restaurants at midnight. Maybe next year we start closing at 11, or closing at 10.”

The issue will be voted on Wednesday, with people from both sides of the issue stating their case.

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