S.L. Council set to vote on neighborhood pubs
If you live in Salt Lake City, a bar or pub may be coming to a neighborhood near you.
After weeks of discussion, Chairman Soren Simonsen said he will call for a vote on Mayor Ralph Becker's initiative Tuesday at the council's scheduled 7 p.m. meeting.
It appears likely the council will pass an ordinance that allows social clubs and pubs in small commercial districts in residential areas. But it remains unclear how restrictive such an ordinance would be.
The size of the establishments has yet to be determined. And some zones may be excluded from new regulations.
"I wouldn't want to make a prediction," Simonsen said of the outcome. "But I don't think it's going to come down to a compromise."
The council's discussions on the issue have been fractured. City polling suggests that Salt Lakers are deeply divided some strongly favor neighborhood pubs while others adamantly oppose them.
"That's part of the dilemma council members face," Simonsen said, "because we're trying to represent all of our constituents."
The neighborhood-pub proposal was put before the council by the mayor as part of his walkable communities initiative. But over the course of the spring and summer the council has wrestled with the issue and hatched alternatives.
Council members Jill Remington Love and Charlie Luke, who represent east-side districts, don't believe that alcohol retailers should be located in neighborhoods composed of single-family dwellings. But they do not oppose restaurants that serve alcohol.
"My opposition has nothing to do with alcohol," Luke said. "What the [Becker] administration is trying to do makes perfect sense in some areas of the city. But there are places where it doesn't make sense."
Among his concerns is that under Utah law, bars can serve alcohol until 1 a.m. and remain open until 2 a.m.
But Councilman Luke Garrott, who represents downtown and central city, said he would like to see pubs in all Salt Lake City neighborhoods.
"I see them as an amenity where people can gather and get to know each other," he said. "They are places for community building."
Under the mayor's proposal, pub proprietors in most neighborhood commercial districts would be required to obtain a conditional-use permit, Garrott said. That, he said, would allow the city to mitigate nuisance factors, such as light, noise and garbage.
But while new zoning could allow bars in areas that have not had them in the past, only the Utah Department of Alcohol Beverage Control can issue licenses to sell liquor.
"We may be giving the impression that once we pass this [ordinance], pubs will pop up all over the place," Luke said. "But the city has no authority over liquor licenses."
The Salt Lake City Council is expected to vote on a proposed ordinance to allow social clubs and pubs in some residential areas at its 7 p.m. Tuesday meeting at City Hall, 541 S. State, in room 315.
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