Statement: A San Diego restaurant can’t add a pool table “without going through some additional regulations because that pool table was deemed a negative element in the 1950s or ’60s,” City Council President Tony Young said in a Q&A the Union-Tribune published Nov. 27.
Analysis: The Union-Tribune published a Q&A with three City Council members Sunday that emphasized their push to improve San Diego’s economy. They cited a bipartisan eagerness to cut red tape, improve the business climate and create jobs.
When the Union-Tribune asked how the council would achieve those goals, since decades of past politicians have made similar promises, Young offered an example. Here’s his full statement:
It’s things we shouldn’t even have on the books. A restaurant owner told me, “We can’t put a pool table in our restaurant without going through some additional regulations because that pool table was deemed a negative element in the 1950s or ’60s.” Clearly it is a different time now. Things like that are still on the books.
No, they’re not.
We checked the city’s books and Young’s description doesn’t hold up. Adding one pool table at a restaurant wouldn’t spur additional city regulations.
The law says businesses can have up to four billiard tables before needing a permit for them. With five or more tables, businesses must apply for an entertainment permit that costs between $126 and $1,840 depending on the permit’s duration and whether the business serves alcohol.
In some cases, however, even installing five or more tables wouldn’t spur more permitting requirements. If a business already has an entertainment permit for a different reason, such as live music, the city doesn’t require it to get another one.
And contrary to Young’s description, the city didn’t begin requiring permits for pool rooms in the 1950s or 1960s. Deirdre Anderson, a law librarian for City Attorney’s Office, helped us piece together a brief legislative history.
As early as 1901, pool halls fell under the broad category of police-regulated businesses in San Diego. Then, in 1941, the city created laws prohibiting pool halls from staying open too late and admitting minors without a parent or legal guardian.
It wasn’t until 1987, citing concern for public safety, that the City Council began requiring the entertainment permit for businesses with pool tables.
Since one pool table wouldn’t spur more regulation today and the city’s permitting rules were created decades after Young’s description, we’ve dubbed the statement False.
In an interview Wednesday, Jill Esterbrooks, Young’s spokeswoman, said the councilman was only relaying a restaurant owner’s experiences to the Union-Tribune and appreciated our research to set the record straight. She did not dispute our findings.
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