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TMCNet:  Gaming moratorium, early retirement incentive approved

[October 03, 2012]

Gaming moratorium, early retirement incentive approved

BARSTOW, Oct 03, 2012 (Desert Dispatch - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Barstow City Council unanimously approved imposing an interim moratorium ordinance to halt the establishment of computer gaming and Internet access businesses from opening in Barstow.

City staff will study and develop regulations of such businesses during the 45-day moratorium to address gambling and potential crime issues.

The city received complaints from neighboring businesses about the now closed FuNet Internet Cafe, where customers waited to play sweepstakes games for cash prizes at computer terminals.

"Complaints have been made that FuNet Internet Cafe sometimes stays open until 2 a.m., and that customers of adjacent businesses are being deterred from the Stater Brothers Shopping Center businesses because of the 'nature of the clientele' that 'this [alleged] gambling operation attracts,'" according to the city agenda.

The ordinance defines a "computer gaming and Internet access business" as an establishment with more than four computers and electronic devices. The business seeks compensation from users who access the email, Internet, video games, computer software programs operating alone, on a network, or a client/server program. Computer access locations operated by the city, a public library, private learning institution, college and school districts are excluded from the definition if it does not receive compensation.

"Many cities have experienced an increase in police calls for service, felony and other arrests in neighboring areas where the Internet cafes have located, including arrests for robbery, illegal drug use and sales, burglary, assaults, public intoxication and warrant arrests," according to the city agenda.

Early retirement incentive The council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing an early retirement incentive program to city employees, excluding the city manager and department heads. The city estimates a cost savings of $169,774 in the first year of the program's implementation. There are currently 37 employees eligible for the program. After completing an analysis by Nov. 21, the city will initiate the program if it makes sense. Renaming streets Two city streets could be renamed after former Barstow residents. The council approved proposals to request the Planning Commission to rename two streets in honor of their military service. Roadrunner Drive would be renamed after Clarence Griego, a former Barstow resident who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Hallenmar Drive would be renamed after Harry H. Smith, a prisoner of war during World War II.

Street closures The council adopted a resolution requesting street closures for the Barstow Kiwanis Club annual Mardi Gras Parade on Oct. 27. It will cost the city approximately $10,000 to close streets, place barricades and provide services for police security.

___ (c)2012 the Desert Dispatch (Barstow, Calif.) Visit the Desert Dispatch (Barstow, Calif.) at www.desertdispatch.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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