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CALUC Letter re Application for Patron Participation Entertainment Endorsement –531 Yates–Sonora Bar

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

Sonora Bar & Grill Mexican Fusion Cuisine

The DRA Land Use Committee has reviewed the application for a Patron Participation Entertainment Endorsement for an existing Food Primary Licence:

  • No change to the hours of service – 9am to 2am Monday to Saturday and 9am to 12midnight Sunday;

  • No change to total occupant load of 130 people, including a 14 person outdoor patio;

  • The associated patron participation activities to end by midnight daily. The Land Use Committee has struggled with this application, not least because there is a contradiction between the Owner Letter of Intent (dated September 8, 2021) and the Notice of Application.

The owner seems to think that he is applying for the entertainment endorsement as part of broader application. He notes that the Senora is certainly food primary until at least 10pm but becomes predominantly a drinking establishment after that. To handle that change responsibly, the owner suggests that the Senora become a liquor primary venue after that, and that security would be brought in to ID patrons after 11pm. The entertainment endorsement is not being sought because the Sonora organizes any patron participation but because happy patrons feel moved by the music to get up and dance next to their tables. Out of an abundance of caution, the owner is anxious to cover such activity through the endorsement.

DRA LUC members question whether this endorsement is necessary, absent any formal patron participation activities. Indeed, the endorsement might add to the owner’s concerns rather than allay them because he would be required to ensure that such activity cease at midnight and there is no stated plan for doing so.

As to the question that is not addressed in the City’s Notice of Application, DRALUC members noted that lower Yates has a concentration of late-night drinking seats, with patrons spilling out onto the street at closing time. The Senora would already be part of this scene and their proposed change in focus after 11 pm would only add to that. We urge the City to ask the police to comment on whether there have been calls about noise or disorderly activity associated with the Senora, and that this information guide the City’s recommendation. We note that the applicant does address possible concerns about the sound levels of the music. However, the statement that there no residents nearby is problematic; there are a number of buildings with residential units within the notice radius, including several on the north side of the 500 block of Yates.

Even given that the City notice covers only the entertainment endorsement: • DRALUC members do not support this application. Regards, Andy Wachtel For the DRA Land Use Committee

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