PG Council moves to allow liquor sales in hotels until 2 a.m.

PACIFIC GROVE — The Pacific Grove City Council is seeking to allow guests at hotels, motels and other “hospitality institutions” to drink alcohol until 2 a.m., the limit mandated by the State Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).

An earlier proposal would have required such businesses to close liquor sales at midnight. There is no specific set time currently. Businesses are subject to the specifications in their individual use permits. But with the city making moves to become more business friendly, something that is both more lenient and clear is being sought.

“I move that we make hotels conform to the ABC standards of 2 a.m.,” said City Councilman Alan Cohen at a meeting on Jan. 16. “If guests are at hotels and not driving, if they’re staying in and having a good time, we should follow the ABC rule.”

All other businesses downtown that feature both eating and the drinking of alcohol including restaurants, brew pubs and wine tasting rooms will be required to stop liquor sales at midnight.

The proposal was returned to the Planning Commission for review last week. The Planning Commission, after deliberations with residents and organizations last year, produced a 123-page document to amend the city’s zoning for commercial and industrial use. The document seeks to streamline and correct inconsistencies in current zoning that city planners hope will make the cash-strapped city more “business friendly” and active economically in the downtown.

Zoning uses are being discussed from what constitutes a flea market, to allowing computer repairs in the downtown, or a car wash (people surveyed indicated the number one thing they wanted downtown was a car wash).

Also under discussion are zoning requirements for a potential research and development facility, a self-storage, bowling alley, miniature golf, or community garden. In one instance, the document proposes to change the zoning for a laundry service from the current need to acquire a full use permit from the city — requiring review by the Planning Commission — to an easier-to-pass administrative use permit.

Easing liquor sales in the downtown is the most controversial. At a session earlier this month, the council opted to remove the “75 percent rule,” a requirement that restaurants designate 75 percent of their floor space to serving food and not alcohol. The zoning amendment would also allow the opening of wine tasting rooms, brew pubs and sports bars in the downtown that serve both food and alcohol.

The council will not allow bars that sell only alcohol, saying it could result in a rowdy atmosphere that would conflict with Pacific Grove’s image as a peaceful, family-oriented hometown. Councilman Ken Cuneo said at the Jan. 16 session he considered the changes to be moderate and noted that Monterey County had been named one of the top wine producing districts in the state.

“This will bring us into the 21st century,” he said. “If people know Monterey County is a big wine district, they may come to Pacific Grove. But we need something to show them. Bars are not allowed, but selling wine, I think, is a good thing.”

After review, the Planning Commission will return the document to the council for a first reading and possible adoption in March.
 

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