Los Angeles (January 16, 2008) - The federal government recently issued a press release announcing it had launched a "massive, unprecedented effort at taking back the streets in Pinal County from violent, warring gang members." When you need the federal government's help "taking back" your streets, you shouldn't be spending valuable county resources to ban dancing at a family-oriented restaurant. But that's exactly what Pinal County, Arizona, has been doing for well over a year.
The newest Reason.tv Drew Carey video tells the story of Dale and Spencer Bell. The Bell's dream of owning a family restaurant in Pinal County quickly turned into a nightmare filled with meddling politicians abusing their power.
First, officials changed the county's noise ordinance, making it the most restrictive in the state, and started checking for violations at the Bell's restaurant, the San Tan Flat, three times a night. Then, after failing to find a single breach of the noise ordinance at the restaurant, the County Board of Supervisors shifted tactics. In September 2006, the county declared that since the San Tan Flat features live country music on its patio and allows diners to get out of their chairs and dance that the restaurant is not a steakhouse, but a "dance hall." By declaring it a dance hall, local politicians were able to invoke a 1962 law that requires dance halls to be "fully enclosed," which of course the San Tan Flat is not.
So if the Bells don't stop their customers from dancing they could be fined up to $700 a night, or more than $200,000 a year.
"The dancing at San Tan Flat doesn't hurt anybody, doesn't infringe upon anyone's rights and certainly isn't a threat to the public," said Adrian Moore, vice president of research at Reason Foundation. "Zoning laws are being used as an excuse to harass this restaurant's owners and patrons and perhaps even drive it out of business altogether. It's un-American and an abuse of power that must be stopped."
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