Revised Rules for Bars, Restaurants and Taverns Generate Interest from Local Establishments

While new City of Fresno rules pertaining to the operation of restaurants, bars and nightclubs go into effect today, local patrons will see no immediate change in hours at their favorite establishment. The revised ordinance requires any business owner who wishes to operate under the new rules to apply for an updated Conditional Use Permit.

Several businesses have inquired about the application process for an updated CUP but no approvals have yet been granted. The new regulations include a 15 day public noticing period once an application has been approved by the City and the opportunity for the public to appeal through the Planning Commission. Existing businesses will not be affected by the new rules unless they wish to modify their hours of operation or the change the types of services or entertainment they provide.

The updated ordinance was approved by the Fresno City Council on October 22, 2009. The new rules were drafted after ten months of meetings and discussions with restaurateurs, night club operators, event promoters, residents, police officials and other stakeholders. It establishes specific requirements for restaurants, bars and clubs regarding hours of operation, alcohol sales, parking, noise, security, and other issues.

The updated ordinance defines three types of business uses: restaurants, taverns and nightclubs. A business would be required to obtain City approval based on these definitions and the planned uses. For example, under the ordinance, “restaurants” will be required to offer food service during all hours of operation; “taverns” may offer live entertainment, but not dancing; while “nightclubs” could offer dancing to live or recorded music. Under the new regulations, the City has eliminated a requirement that businesses apply for dance permits separately.

The ordinance sets consistent rules for determining hours of operation and alcohol sales, based on location and type of business. Restaurants will not be permitted to sell alcohol after 12:30 a.m. but can continue to serve food after that time. Taverns may apply for a permit to remain open until 2 a.m. Nightclubs can be permitted to remain open until 2 a.m. In each case, the establishments are required to meet specific operating conditions for each permitted use.

In addition, the ordinance allows for nightclubs in the downtown area to receive permits to remain open until 4 a.m., although alcohol sales would stop at 2 a.m. The new rules also expand public noticing requirements as businesses apply for permits to provide neighboring business owners, residents and other interested individuals an opportunity to offer input to the City regarding the planned use.