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Councilman appeals Bomburger ruling

He calls attention to two planning commissioners who serve on downtown residents association and who spoke to the association's spokesman before permit hearing.

February 09, 2011|By Mona Shadia, mona.shadia@latimes.com

Huntington Beach City Councilman Keith Bohr has appealed the Planning Commission's decision to deny Bomburger restaurant a permit to serve beer and wine to customers, claiming the decision may have violated the downtown business' due process and the spirit of a city policy.

Bomburger's request to serve alcohol with its burgers was denied by the commission in a 4-3 vote because it violated a city resolution designed to curb alcohol-related problems downtown.

The resolution, adopted in January 2010, requires all downtown businesses serving alcohol to close at midnight. Bomburger, however, wanted to keep its 2 a.m. closing hours, but offered to stop serving beer and wine at 10 p.m.

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"I'm doing probably 75% of my monthly business between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday," said owner Rob Sleenhof.

Bohr wrote in his appeal filed Friday that he was surprised with the way the commission and citizens, who spoke against the permit, interpreted the resolution.

"It seems to me the request is very much in alignment with the resolution, if not by a 'strict' interpretation, then certainly in the 'spirit' of which the resolution was passed," Bohr wrote.

Bohr's decision to appeal saved Sleenhof the $3,045 nonrefundable city fee he would have had to pay to appeal the decision on his own.

"Honestly, I was fine with not even appealing it," Sleenhof said. "Other people think that I didn't get a fair hearing."

Bohr argued that Sleenhof was not given a fair and impartial hearing because at least two of the planning commissioners, Blair Farley and Mark Bixby, serve on the board of the Huntington Beach Downtown Residents Assn., a group that fights the number of bars downtown and their effects on the city's DUI statistics, among other issues.

Bohr wrote in the appeal that both commissioners spoke to Kim Kramer, the association's spokesman, about Bomburger's request on several occasions before the commission voted.

"The last thing the city of Huntington Beach needs is more lawsuits to litigate along with the costs, financially and via the negative press that comes with such litigation," Bohr wrote.

Bohr's argument against Farley and Bixby lacks credibility, Kramer said.

"Councilman Bohr is off target," he said. "There is no restriction on any City Council appointee having any political or community affiliations."

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