So You Think You Can Dance?

The debate about noise, crowds, and drunkards’ pollution of the 500 block of State Street entered a new chapter this week as the Santa Barbara City Council unanimously denied two separate appeals of a recent decision by the city’s Fire and Police Commission to give a dance permit to the James Joyce bar. In a somewhat bizarre twist of semantics, both the owner of the Joyce, Thomas Byrne, and a neighbor, Tamara Erickson of the Hotel Santa Barbara, were arguing against the February 28 decision-the former because he disliked the conditions tacked onto the permit, and the latter because she feels dance permits result in more people, more drinks, more noise, and more general chaos in her neighborhood.

Though not specifically being evaluated under the city’s new dance permit ordinance, which was approved in late January, the James Joyce situation comes close to what the new set of rules would term a “Tier 2 Permit.” The Joyce’s permit allows bar-goers to boogie three nights a week before 1 a.m., requires that the back door be kept closed during such dancing, and prohibits deejays. To Byrne, the back-door rule was most troublesome, as the Joyce’s leads to both the parking lot and the smoking area, in addition to allowing in fresh air during the hot nights.

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