City Adopts Ordinance to Streamline Regulations For Restaurants, Bars and Nightclubs

The Fresno City Council today unanimously approved new rules pertaining to the operation of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The revised ordinance creates more uniform standards for these establishments and sets more stringent public notification requirements than current regulations call for.

The new rules were drafted after months of meetings and discussions with restaurateurs, night club operators, event promoters, residents, police officials and other stakeholders. The ordinance establishes specific requirements for restaurants, bars and clubs regarding hours of operation, alcohol sales, parking, noise, security, and other issues. Under current procedures, the rules for these types of businesses have often been determined on a case by case basis, which has resulted in inconsistent policies and enforcement challenges.

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 will eliminate 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 would be required to stop selling alcohol at 12:30 a.m. but can continue to serve food after that time. Taverns may remain open until 2 a.m. although may be required to close earlier if located close to residential neighborhoods. Nightclubs will now be permitted to remain open until 2 a.m. In each case, the establishments would be required to meet specific operating conditions for the permitted use.

In addition, the ordinance would allow nightclubs in the downtown area to remain open until 4 a.m. in an effort to provide enhanced entertainment options in the city of Fresno. Alcohol sales, however, would not be permitted after 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.

The updated ordinance will go into effect in 30 days.