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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is formally calling for the end of a two-bar-per-block restriction downtown.
Becker contends the restriction unnecessarily thwarts economic development and saddles the city with a reputation for being more bland than it deserves.
"We wanted to minimize the city's dictating to the market where those places could go," said David Everitt, Becker's chief of staff.
Under the proposed changes, bars still couldn't set up shop within 600 feet of a church, park or school because of state law.
The city also wants to explore placing conditions on certain bars near downtown lofts, condos and apartments to avoid complaints.
A majority of public feedback sought by city officials has been receptive to lifting the two-bar-per block restriction.
An extensive public-outreach effort has included presentations to community councils, neighborhood group discussions, board briefings, an open house and a planned telephone survey. Out of 169 responses to the alcohol "normalization" proposal, 130 were in favor and 26 opposed, according to the mayor's office.
"It's a great idea," wrote Casey Buxton. "It's time for Salt Lake to shake its bad reputation as a closed-off city of religion."
Draper's Shaina Miron Quinn said she and her husband enjoy coming downtown for dinner and wine, but want more options.
"It seems reasonable and it retains all of the state and community safeguards," she writes. "We just want what is standard in other American cities."
Others want no part of bringing Salt Lake City more in line with other cities its size around the country.
"When we say we need more bars to attract more tourists we are making a degrading assumption that people come to our city to drink," Sasha Pachev wrote. "I'd rather have them go somewhere else."
Everitt said the main motivation is to let the market decide what the city can handle, not government.
The city council is expected to vote on the downtown revision by the end of the year.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)