Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Hookah Lounge Business

Well, I posted about a Hookah lounge that was operating in a Walgreen's shopping center here. I'm a little confused on the details, but I think at the hearing they allowed the owner of the lounge to expand his license to include smoking? I'm not sure the details...

At any rate the president of a local neighborhood association appealed the decision and tonight they had an open forum to allow all those with an interest to make the case. I was not going to go. To be honest, I was a little lukewarm about the issue. My major concern was actually addressed: the owner was not going to open his operations until 7pm. I figured that he already had legal permission to operate the business because he was operating before the law prohibiting such establishments near a school had been passed.

However, a very passionate woman that attends my church who lives in the neighborhood of the association he submitted the appeal, called me this morning encouraging me to come. How could I tell her no, so I came, and I'm glad I did because it was pretty interesting.

This issue completely comes down to how you feel about laws that prohibit smoking in bars and restaurants. Tempe passed a pretty comprehensive law a few years ago prohibiting such things. Well, the owner of this Hookah lounge assumed that hookah was really not smoking. In 2006, he was allowed to operate his business as long as he was only selling hookah not having people actually sitting in the establishment smoking it.

However, he was cited a year or so back with violating this provision, and as a result, he was petitioning the city council to allow him to expand his license to allow him to actually operate the Hookah lounge as a Hookah lounge.

It was as simple as that, actually, and that was all the mayor and the council really needed to hear.

But, of course, it was an open agenda, and the owner of the lounge got to petition his case, the president of the neighborhood association gave his statement. A few people who frequent the lounge, a business owner who operates his business next to the lounge made an appeal to keep it open.

Many neighbors, and most notably some passionate anti-smoking activists got up to give their rant.

But it all seemed superfluous, and actually, made this particular meeting really long.

In the end, the appeal was sustained, and the hookah lounge was transformed into a hookah store.

Am I happy with the result? A little mixed, actually. The owner seemed pretty sincere and honest. He has only been in the country for a short time, and this seemed to be partially a clash of cultures.

I do understand and really appreciate the anti-smoking arguments. How, we can't keep letting people slide around the law. We need to make a firm stand. One man, actually, came up attached to an oxygen tank, presumably earned through long years of smoking.

And apparently, there have been some studies indicating Hookah smoking is potentially even more harmful than normal cigarette smoking, but what do I know.

Did I get up to speak? Of course not... If I would have, I would have been inclined to propose some sort of compromise. Allow the establishment to operate, but maybe propose a new location further away from the school. Or perhaps allow it to stay as long as there was some way to hide the fact that it was a smoking lounge.

In the end, though, having a smoking lounge or a bar or any thing along those lines jammed right up next to a high school just doesn't seem like the way to go, so I have to say, I am happy with the result.

By the way, attending this meeting helps me understand why I do not have political ambitions. The tediousness of the meeting just makes me want to scream. They had the agenda all typed out for everyone to read, but our mayor still had to read through every last bullet out loud to everyone. All 50 or so items? Really?

Could I ever imagine PayPal being so formal? Why all the formality? Honestly, I really don't get it...

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