Community Board: Early last call pours money down drain

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Poelker poses in front of Johnny's Bar & Grill.

Hollister officials’ decision to halt alcohol sales at midnight in the biker-rally area was a misguided, snap judgment and cost business owners significant revenue.
The Hollister Freedom Rally’s primary benefit to the local community is supposed to be a boost to businesses, so it’s odd that city council members backed law enforcement’s recommendation to shut down the bars early at a peak time when customers are spending astounding amounts of money.
It’s understandable that police would want to cut back on rally activity hours because there are only so many cops available over a holiday weekend to safely monitor a large biker event. But it’s up to city officials to make sure they can provide all the necessary security—whether that means public or private personnel—to ensure businesses can stay open as long as possible at this most crucial time of the year. Otherwise, the city should stop charging the promoter for security costs after rally event hours or else work with affected business owners to devise a privately funded, beefed-up safety plan.
It’s absurd that the local government circumvented state law for two days—sadly, with no discussion in public—by cutting back bar time. Nobody in that younger weekend crowd, after all, was sticking around for a round of sodas long after midnight. All it did was cut into profits of the businesses that Hollister officials claim they’re trying to help by sanctioning the rally.
Johnny’s Bar & Grill owner Charisse Tyson couldn’t pin down an exact figure but she mentioned losing “thousands” of dollars from the early closure Saturday night.
In the end, it came across as a panicked decision by the four council members who supported it—Mayor Ignacio Velazquez recused himself—and reflected a larger problem with the rally and planning of the major event. Hollister officials should stop the trend of delaying serious rally planning for months and turning it, year after year, into an unnecessarily rushed event. The planning should start immediately for next year and well beyond. If the city and other organizers are serious about the rally’s future and its impact on the local economy, they should plan at least five years out and start running the rally like a credible, thoughtful, innovative business.
In the meantime, it would be worth an investigation by California Department of Justice regulators to find out if Hollister council members had a legal right to make the decision on alcohol sales out of the public eye in closed session. On the surface, their claim that safety issues prompted the closed-door meeting is flimsy at best.

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