Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Local pub can’t dance its way out of restrictions

RYAN FAUGHNDER
DAILY SOUND CORRESPONDENT

The James Joyce Irish pub will now be allowed to host dancing on its premises, but not without some stringent restrictions. After a heated discussion, city council unanimously rejected two competing appeals against the Fire and Police Commission’s decision to grant the bar a full dancing permit with eight conditions attached.
Tamara Erickson, general manager of Hotel Santa Barbara, which is located on the same block as the pub, argued to reject the request for the permit entirely. She said the permit would exacerbate already serious problems of alcohol- and noise-related crime. She also claimed the prescribed conditions were unenforceable.

On the other hand, the owners of the James Joyce, Thomas and Linda Byrne, appealed because they felt the recommended conditions were confusing and bad for business. Under the permit, dancing will only be allowed three nights per week, for example.
Neither appellant went home happy.
Erickson expressed dismay at the fact that the commission would allow another dancing permit on such a nightlife-impacted block. She complained that guests at her hotel often lose sleep because of the amplified music from the bar, and that she had to reimburse some of these disgruntled people. Granting the James Joyce nightclub status would make the problem worse, she said.
In her statement of appeal, she charged that the Fire and Police Commission “showed favoritism toward” the James Joyce when they granted the permit and that their analysis of the impact of this action was “not adequate.”
Thomas Byrne, whose bar has achieved local fame for its live music, countered that he had no intention of fundamentally changing his business and that the permit conditions would not solve any problems.
“It would just be confusing to tell our customers, ‘You can dance tonight, but you can’t dance tomorrow night,’” he said. “We are not going to become a club … We just want not to get another ticket” for prohibited dancing.
Though they rejected both appeals, several city council members suggested that the question of dancing permits had little to do with the concentration of crime on lower State Street.
Councilmember Helene Schneider said that the council could not solve anything by passing ordinances that are impossible to enforce, and that the idea of dancing permits in general made no sense.
According to Erickson, however, the members of the council and the Fire and Police Commission underestimated the impact of the permit.
“It’s not just about dancing,” she said. “It’s about businesses using dancing as a marketing tool to bring people in to drink.”
One condition imposed by the commission mandated that the pub keep its back door closed while playing music so as not to disturb nearby residents and businesses. Byrne said that, because of his establishment’s lack of air conditioning, he should be allowed to keep the door open for the comfort of the customers. He also pointed out that bar-goers often hang out and smoke on the patio to which the back door leads, and argued that the restriction would make it harder to keep track of such clientele.
Grant House, mayor tempore, argued that there were other solutions to the “back door” issue, and suggested it might be time for the bar to “pony up” for some air conditioning. Councilmember Dale Francisco also said that responsibility should fall onto the drinking establishment.
“It seems to me that, given the concentration of dance permits, and given the concentration of crime … granting another dance permit there doesn’t make much sense,” Francisco said. “I see a need for better enforcement on the part of the business owner.”

3 comments:

MCConfrontation said...

Didn't these people ever see Footloose? What a bunch of curmudgeons, especially the hotel manager. If she had a clue she'd know that the Joyce isn't a dance club; it's a bar that sometimes has bands there. it's not like the wild cat where folks are strung on E, or Q's where they're hammering down lines in the bathroom. It's a great neighborhood bar that has way less problems than its neighbors. Wise up Council. If any of you had any first-hand experience with any of the places downtown you'd know this already.

Anonymous said...

This is absurd. The James Joyce is not a bar full of angry drunks or college kids with drinking problems. It's a great, sociable bar that improves the quality of life in Santa Barbara by hosting live music, which is more scarce than it really should be for a college town like ours. Who are these people who complain about the nightlife in Santa Barbara being out of control? They're clueless.

The city would do a hell of a lot more to insure public safety if they extended the hours of the buses that go downtown. I lived in Austin for a while, and they had a special bus specifically for those who want to go out at night on the weekends, and it was a great service. Santa Barbara could even pay for it by letting the bars stay open for another hour and subsidizing the cost of the buses with some of the proceeds from the bars. Everyone would win: the city would have fewer drunk drivers, the bars could pull in more revenue, and people could stay out longer to have more fun. Not everyone who goes out on the weekends is an idiot drunk. In fact, _most_ aren't.

Anonymous said...

This is absurd. The James Joyce is not a bar full of angry drunks or college kids with drinking problems. It's a great, sociable bar that improves the quality of life in Santa Barbara by hosting live music, which is more scarce than it really should be for a college town like ours. Who are these people who complain about the nightlife in Santa Barbara being out of control? They're clueless.

The city would do a hell of a lot more to insure public safety if they extended the hours of the buses that go downtown. I lived in Austin for a while, and they had a special bus specifically for those who want to go out at night on the weekends, and it was a great service. Santa Barbara could even pay for it by letting the bars stay open for another hour and subsidizing the cost of the buses with some of the proceeds from the bars. Everyone would win: the city would have fewer drunk drivers, the bars could pull in more revenue, and people could stay out longer to have more fun. Not everyone who goes out on the weekends is an idiot drunk. In fact, _most_ aren't.