Hayward Reinstates Happy Hour While Tightening Regulations

Mayor Sweeney stood alone Tuesday night in opposition to happy hour in Hayward.

The city of Hayward narrowly passed an ordinance, 5-2, Tuesday to permanently bring an established set time zone for happy hour in Hayward, but will raise fees on police incidents that occur at venues that serve alcohol.

Happy hour is when a business offers reduced price alcoholic drinks and appetizers to increase business. The city banned the practice in 2006, and repealed the ban in 2012. The new regulations will allow businesses to have a happy hour between 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The city does not want restaurants and bars to have happy hour after those set hours, reasoning, “those hours typically occur after mealtime and could encourage over-drinking,” the staff report states.

Mayor Michael Sweeney made a last second attempt to stifle happy hour, stating “it’s designed to encourage people to drink more, and I don’t think that’s good for the community or the society in general.” The motion failed unanimously, receiving six no votes from the rest of the councilmembers, and one aye from the mayor.

A six-month trial period was held for businesses to demonstrate the effectiveness of a happy hour. According to the staff report, businesses saw “up to a 30 percent increase in sales” during this period, the report states.

The new regulations will also allow live and recorded music to be played at restaurants and bars until midnight, the legislation states, as long as it is within current noise standards. Live entertainment venues, listed as “cabarets” in the ordinance, require permits from the city to operate.

A new provision will punish bars and other alcohol license holders for police calls that require five or more officers.  Businesses must pay these fines within 30 days of receiving the bill from the city.

“These provisions will allow responsible parties/licensees to reimburse the city for costs incurred in responding to such serious incidents, versus the general Hayward taxpayer paying for those costs via the city’s general fund,” the report states.

Aric Yeverino, the owner of the bar Dirty Bird Lounge, defended bars stating that they are “not a breeding ground of sin.” He asked the city to respect his business, and provided the city with 750 signatures in support of his bar.

“A lot of this seems as if it’s a witch hunt, and we kind of want to know where we stand,” Yeverino said to the council. “If you’re pointing to businesses you want to remove, please can you tell it to our faces.”

While the city wants to deter the construction of bars and liquor stores, the report states that the city wants to create an environment for wine shops to establish themselves in Hayward. Doc’s Wine Shop, which opened a few months ago on Foothill Blvd in the downtown area, is cited as a positive example.

The ordinance was barely signed into law, with councilmembers Francisco Zermeno and Greg Jones voting against the legislation. A future meeting will establish a system to slap more mischievous bars and liquor stores with higher fines compared to businesses that cause less trouble and abide by the law.