On December 2, the Escondido City Council declined to initiate a downtown zoning amendment that would allow hookah lounges to operate in the city. Within the past two months, the City has received four to five requests to establish hookah businesses.
Councilmembers Olga Diaz, Dick Daniels, and Marie Waldron cited the health risks, the burden on Escondido police to check for compliance, and the lack of demand as major reasons for their opposition.
Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler asked, "What do we want to attract?... I recognize that the rules that we put in place determine the character of the people that will come downtown, and so hookah is not, I don't think, what we've envisioned for our downtown and the age group that we've been trying to attract."
Councilman Sam Abed supported hookah lounges, but only in upscale restaurants. "Government should not be in business to regulate people's behavior," he said. He did, however, acknowledge the necessity for government to step in where health and safety issues were concerns.