Mel’s Move Down State Street Opposed by Police

Santa Barbara Police are opposing efforts by Mel’s, one of Santa Barbara’s more entrenched watering holes, to move from its current digs within the Paseo Nuevo Mall to the 400 block of State Street. Mel’s is hoping to move south because its landlords doubled the rent, but police are objecting that the presence of the bar will contribute to the general alcoholic din-and attendant enforcement issues-that now defines the three-block spread from the 400 to the 600 blocks of State Street. City police acknowledge that the number of complaints associated with Mel’s have numbered only eight in the past three years, but say the drunk and disorderly district-known as Census Tract 9-where Mel’s wants to move elicits about 2,000 calls for service a year. Mel’s timing could not be worse. In recent months, hotel and motel owners on lower State Street have renewed their on-again, off-again campaign to limit the number of liquor licenses allowed in the area. According to police, the City of Santa Barbara has nearly half the 1,254 liquor licenses in the county-though only 21 percent of the population-and that one-third of those licenses are in Tract 9. The matter will be decided in the next two weeks by an administrative law judge hired by Alcoholic Beverage Control. Mel’s-which has been in business 65 years, 44 in its present location-has until the end of the year before its lease expires.

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