Saloon permit upheld
Someone had to go first. It just happened to be the Long Way Home Saloon.
The popular bar made it through Wednesday's conditional use permit review without having to change its hours of operation, but the city is going to make it toe the line and abide by state laws.
City officials will also be looking at other businesses whose required reviews have slipped through the cracks, officials said.
The Willows Planning Commission said they have planner Karen Mantele dusting off the files of businesses that are suppose to have use permit reviews every two or more years.
"We're just trying to catch up," said Commissioner Huston Carlyle.
It's been six years since the Long Way Home had a review, and it's likely that many other businesses have gone that long, he said.
What the commission didn't expect was the controversy when they put Long Way Home's review on their agenda.
Mantele said when she sent notices to the bar's neighbors, a requirement of the review, a petition was submitted by the bar's neighbors asking the city to reduce the Long Way Home's hours of operation because of late-night disturbances.
The word, however, got around social-networking sites that the city was going to shut the bar down.
"We don't want any business to close," emphasized neighbor Doris Kessler. "We just want to be able to sleep at night."
Owners, however, said reducing the hours of operation would be financially devastating.
"I know that our neighbors don't want us to close, but the financial hardship would eventually cause us to close," said owner Jill Beath.
About 300 patrons, employees and vendors of the establishment submitted a petition Wednesday asking the city not to change the hours of operation. The impact on city revenue and unemployment if the bar should close was noted.
Patrons also said the Long Way Home was a nice place to go to hang out and play pool.
The site has been a bar for about 70 years, said Dick Bond, who owns the building.
Beath did say she would provide training to her staff and make sure a bouncer is on duty to try and mitigate some of the disturbances.
The Planning Commission also recognized that disturbances are often from people who have left the bar and are walking in the neighborhood.
"A disturbance on the street is not the bar's problem," said Commissioner Amy Alves.
The Commission did find, however, that the Long Way Home is in violation of its state Alcohol Beverage Control license, which state's the bar cannot have outside sign that alcohol is served at the establishment.
Mantele said the bar's primary sign, which indicates cocktails are served and the name "saloon" violates the condition of bar's alcohol license.
Although the state agency has not enforced the requirement, city officials agreed the conditional use permit requires that all ABC requirements be upheld.
The Planning Commission has given the Long Way Home one year to comply.
Thereafter, the bar will undergo conditional use permit review every two years.
CONTACT Susan Meeker at 934-6800 or email@example.com.