An ordinance that would have allowed certain Hermosa Beach restaurants with on-sale alcohol to stay open past midnight on New Year's Eve was met with almost unanimous opposition this week.
The urgency ordinance, proposed by Councilman Peter Tucker, would have allowed restaurants that normally close before midnight to instead close at 12:30 a.m. on New Year's Eve. The goal, Tucker said, was to help restaurants who wished to hold New Year's Eve celebrations.
However, at a Dec. 5 meeting, the planning commission, along with the police and fire chiefs, voiced strong opposition to the proposed exception, citing land use, safety and policing issues.
"We do have some concerns about the additional staff," Interim Police Chief Steve Johnson told the council. "New Year's Eve is a large event." The Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce hosts a free New Year’s Eve Celebration on Pier Plaza that brings lots of people out for the evening.
The proposed ordinance would have only applied to establishments operating as "restaurants with alcohol" and those businesses would still be subject to their liquor license restrictions set forth by the Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
As such, a staff report found that only 12 restaurants would have potentially benefited from the proposed New Year's Eve hours exception.
The strong opposition from city staff and the realization the ordinance would have only affected a few businesses led Tucker to publicly apologize at Tuesday's meeting for proposing the ordinance.
"I want to apologize to staff for sending them through this exercise," Tucker said. "When I watched the planning commission meeting I said, 'Wow, it is not as easy as we think sometimes when we sit up here'... I kind of had to go sit in the corner after that meeting."
In the end, the council unanimously approved a motion to simply receive and file the staff report on the proposed ordinance and took no further action to approve the additional New Year's Eve hours.