Council expands alcohol area for 3 downtown events

Tight vote allows outdoor alcohol consumption anywhere inside event perimeter, instead of in smaller designated zones

The Danville Town Council expressed unanimous support for nine special events on Tuesday, but were divided on whether to expand the alcohol-consumption area at three upcoming downtown activities.

Council members ultimately voted 3-2 to allow legal-age attendees of the Danville d'Elegance Concours, Danville Fall Crafts Festival and Danville Summer Fest to drink alcoholic beverages outdoors anywhere within the event's perimeter, as opposed to a smaller designated area within the boundary -- as was past practice.

"We haven't had any issues at all (with alcohol at the events). We're not talking about doing it or not doing it, we're just talking about expanding the area," Councilman Newell Arnerich said Tuesday night at the Town Meeting Hall.

Vice Mayor Mike Doyle and Councilwoman Karen Stepper dissented.

"I'll go to my grave vehemently denying anybody -- I don't care if it's my mother -- (the right) to drink on my streets in my town," Doyle said. "You don't have to stroll down the street with a glass of wine to enjoy a painting, or whatever."

The alcohol-boundary issue was presented as part of the council's annual review of street closures needed to accommodate special events during the year.

As part of their requests, organizers for three events also asked the town to consider allowing alcohol consumption outside on downtown streets within the entire area bounded by the proposed street closures, in order to enhance the event-goer's experience. Previously, drinking was only allowed in specifically defined areas.

"When you corral them into a place and say, 'You have to stay here to have a glass of wine,' people are upset," said Shelby McNamara, president and CEO of the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce, which will sponsor the crafts festival Oct. 26-27 and the June 21-22 summer fest.

Town staff supported granting the requests in part because the events will occur in the daytime, they have no history of alcohol-related incidents and the sponsors have properly regulated alcohol consumption in the past, said Jill Bergman, the town's economic development manager.

"I think we have proven ourselves," McNamara added. "The chamber is putting its name on the line for this. We're going to be very careful."

Jim Edlund, Danville d'Elegance Foundation board chair, expressed similar sentiments about his organization's event.

"I gotta tell you, we've just never had a problem," he said. "I just don't see it to be a big problem. I think it will enhance the event."

The Sept. 21 Concours d'Elegance is a fundraiser -- with a car show, wine tasting and silent auction -- to benefit Parkinson's disease research and patient care.

Danville Mayor Robert Storer said his confidence in the two organizers weighed heavily in his approval vote.

"Part of my decision tonight is made based on the group that we have here in front of us, and really the good work that you've done over the years," the mayor added. "Frankly, you have proven yourself to me"

In voicing her opposition, Stepper said she thought the debate was larger than approval for three events this year, calling the proposal, "a major sea change in policy."

"For me, it's the issue of the message that we're giving to our youth. And we do have a problem. We do have a problem with youth and alcohol in this community," she said. "(I have) no problems with the activities. It's the message to our youth, and I just think it's not the right message."

The council voted 3-2 to extend the alcohol-consumption boundaries for the trio of events after first voting unanimously to approve the requested street closures.

As part of its approval, the council required the sponsors to train staff on checking driver's licenses, issue wristbands to identify eligible drinkers and operate checkpoints at event exits.

Alcohol consumption will be allowed from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the two chamber events and from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during the Concours d'Elegance.

The council plans to review the 2014 events and revisit the alcohol boundaries next year.

"To me, this trial period for a larger (drinking) area, expanding what we already have going on, I'm OK with that," Councilwoman Renee Morgan said.

The council also signed off on street closures to accommodate the Devil Mountain Run on May 4, the Independence Day parade, Danville Thursday Night Street Festivals on July 10 and Aug. 7, Hot Summer Nights car shows on July 17 and Aug. 14, the Run for Education on Oct. 12 and the downtown holiday tree lighting on Nov. 28.


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Posted by David
a resident of Danville
on Feb 6, 2014 at 10:12 am

I don't see this change as a "sea change." I remember the Fall Arts & Crafts Fair for several years in early 2000s allowing people to stroll the event with a lovely commemorative glass of wine. It was very enjoyable and I missed being able to do that when they instituted the policy of wine and beer consumption only in the restricted areas.

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Posted by Festival Goer
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2014 at 10:44 am

Happy to see that the days of old are coming back :) Yes I agree when you corral someone and make them drink (basically it's a quick drink not savored) in a location that does not allow them to mingle with the Festival, which is the reason they came in the first place, it's a bit prudish to say the least. Let the police do their job and yank out anybody that over steps the drinking limits of decency, so the rest of us can Savor our drink in our Festival glasses and Enjoy the Festival at the same time.

The same goes for the Wine Strolls and Street Fairs in Pleasanton. You are forced to Down your Drink (for Wine Strolls) before you can stroll to the next designated location for your tasting. Perhaps if Danville can bring back the joy of a TRUE Festival Atmosphere to Savor your drink while enjoying the Exhibiting booths, it will open the eyes of those in Pleasanton too. Let the police do their job and yank out anybody that over steps the drinking limits of decency, so the rest of us can Savor our drink in our Festival glasses and Enjoy the Festival at the same time. The turn out will be much Greater and more successful for those that participate as Vendors.

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Posted by Also a festival goer
a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Does having a "good time " always have to involve drinking, especially in this valley ? These are daytime events and I would like to think anyone could survive a couple of hours, during an afternoon, without a cocktail. How many beers or wines will anyone consume before they get behind the wheel and drive home ??? So very prevalent in this area.

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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Danville
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Stepper is right, in that we do have a problem with youth and alcohol in this community. Kids get together, slam down booze as fast as possible - "pre-gaming" - then head out to drink some more.

But I fail to see how observing responsible adults enjoying a leisurely glass of wine, strolling through the streets, is "sending the wrong message" about that. I think Stepper has it exactly backwards: the message she's sending is that alcohol is about getting drunk. The idea that alcoholic beverages exist solely for the purpose of getting wasted is the problem. There's a lot of room between teetotaling and getting drunk, and being able to tell the difference between enjoying a glass of wine and getting blitzed is actually a pretty valuable lesson, which folks like Also a festival goer don't seem to be able to fathom.

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Posted by Al
a resident of Blackhawk
on Feb 6, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Thank You!

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Posted by Pedal Power
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Feb 6, 2014 at 10:40 pm

I'm with Huh, Festival Goer and David. Let the adults be adults and show the kids how to sip and savor instead of slamming shots.

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Posted by FanDanville
a resident of Danville
on Feb 7, 2014 at 11:09 am

This is a decent move!
Many other cities have "fairs" that allow alcohol walked down the street that have proved the concept without major incidents.
(That doesn't mean that there will be zero problems as there is always the possibility of some dumb idiot acting badly. But we shouldn't be controlled by the lowest common denominator.)
Besides, Danville used to have a number of alcohol allowed events that went off with major problems--like walking around doing store to store shopping/browsing with wine tasting and apps in the stores. (Those events seemed to have dried up.....or gone to $25 paid events!?! Why?)
IMO, if there was any event that was on the edge of having trouble, it was the Thursday Night Car Rally event. So that might be the event (and crowd) to have some concerns about.

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Posted by Darlene G
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 10, 2014 at 7:49 am

I appreciate the change. I agree with David and look forward to having the option of strolling with a glass of wine. And if anything sends the wrong message, it's corraling people and having them "drink up" before they leave.

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Posted by Fair Game
a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2014 at 9:57 am

The government / police state reacts to "one bad apple" by cutting down the tree. And why is it that at every "event" I go to there are police hanging around. It feels like the gestapo state smothering mankind. But they have to be there at every event, in fact charging a fee for their presence. Is this a coercive fee? Does the public have the option of saying we don't want police surveillance?

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Posted by RUkidding
a resident of Danville
on Feb 10, 2014 at 10:55 am

I would like to expand a little on Huh? s comments about Stepper..........she's always gotten everything backwards in her time on the City (Developers) Council.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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