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Rohnert Park restricts five types of businesses

The Rohnert Park City Council makes no bones about wanting new businesses in the city.

Just not all kinds, at least for now.

Five emergency ordinances adopted Tuesday by the City Council prohibit the following types of businesses from applying for new business licenses for at least 45 days:

• Pawn shops

• Adult entertainment enterprises

• Check-cashing shops

• Cyber cafes

• Electronic message centers

The council was acting to forestall what it and city staff fear will be a rush of such businesses applying to open in Rohnert Park to serve customers of the $800 million, 3,000-slot Graton Resort & Casino, which is to open later this year, perhaps by Nov. 1.

Tuesday's emergency moratorium prohibits for 45 days any permits for the businesses in question; it allows current permits to be renewed if the business is not relocating. The moratorium can be extended for up to two years.

In response to check-cashing business representatives who spoke against the ordinance, council members noted that it was a temporary measure taken while the impact of the casino is assessed.

"This is not a forever moratorium," said Councilman Jake Mackenzie, who said further study would determine whether the ban is justified.

"We're just trying to get control over it, because we have no idea" what the impact will be, Vice Mayor Joe Callinan said.

The city has estimated that the casino, which is to be open 24 hours a day, will attract some 8,000 customers daily. Some would be driven to cash checks at steep interest rates or hock belongings in order to gamble, Assistant City Manager Darrin Jenkins said in his staff report.

Vacationing casino patrons "often seek other entertainment activities when traveling," said Jenkins, referring to adult entertainment and massage businesses.

"The establishment and/or proliferation of these businesses . . . without sufficient time to consider comprehensive regulations, may have negative public health, safety and welfare impacts," he said.

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