City lowers the bill for restaurant owners through relief measure
by Mariko Lamb
Published - 12/20/12 - 11:08 AM | 4501 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After a one-year trial period, the San Diego City Council unanimously approved legislation to permanently eliminate costly live entertainment permits for non-nightclub or late-night bar-style restaurants.

The “Restaurant Relief” ordinance, initially proposed by District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer last year, underwent a one-year trial starting in November 2011 to gauge the success of the program for restaurant owners and the community at large, including police officers who would otherwise need to be assigned for law enforcement in heavy live-entertainment areas around nightclubs and late-night bars.

“The police department and restaurant owners agreed that ‘Restaurant Relief’ has been successful and recommended it become permanent. This ordinance will continue to save businesses money and let the police department focus on important public safety needs,” said Faulconer. “I’m very proud the City Council approved my proposal to keep City Hall out of the kitchen and let restaurants serve and entertain their customers.”

Entertainment permits to feature amplified music, even as simple as the occasional acoustic guitarist, can range from $1,500 to $4,000 per year without the relief program — a burdensome cost for some local restaurateurs trying to draw customers, said Faulconer.

“In today’s slow economy, restaurateurs continuously search for ways to reduce costs,” said Mike Morton, Jr., president of the San Diego Chapter of the California Restaurant Association, which took part in the task force group behind the program. “This new policy will greatly benefit restaurants that have struggled during this economic downturn and allow them to focus on what’s important — job creation and opportunities for growth.”

District 1 City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, too, lauded the program, which she said will cut red tape for small businesses.

“The city worked with local restaurants on a trial program involving entertainment permits with very good results, so we are pleased to make this a permanent program,” she said. “This is just one way to streamline the process for our restaurant owners. We look forward to finding more ways to help small businesses by cutting red tape wherever we can.”

Restaurants exempt from entertainment permits include only those that are closed between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m., do not charge admission or promote customer dancing and do not require a drink minimum.

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