Alcohol consumption in the city has stirred civic divisions for years. There are the Hermosans who view nightlife in town as a nuisance, and 264 of them recently sent postcards to City Hall, writing, "We'd like a safer, more peaceful downtown."
But bar and restaurant owners cite the economic value their businesses bring the city. They insist that they've been following rules set by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and they can't control the actions of patrons who over-indulge.
"I think I bring an asset to this community," said Gary Vincent, owner of Fat Face Fenner's Fishack, at a City Council meeting in July. "Unfortunately, I don't have a 401(k). I don't have a CalPERS retirement plan… I have a business [and] I'm so burnt out from having to come up here and defend myself."
At that same meeting, even City Council members expressed frustration with having to constantly revisit liquor policy. "All we talk about in this city is alcohol, alcohol and more alcohol," lamented Councilman Peter Tucker.
Even though residents, restaurateurs, and city officials are tired of recent alcohol-related policy discussions, the conversation actually started at least a century ago in the early years of the city's founding and during Prohibition.