What: Boulder City Council meeting
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway
Boulder police officials have completed an assessment of violent crimes that involved alcohol use within a five-block area of a University Hill taco shop that wants to stay open later.
But Boulder's police chief says he's not sure the information is useful, while the councilman who made the request is seeking to expand the study.
On Feb. 7, the City Council agreed to Councilman Macon Cowles' request to have police tally the number of major crimes that happened around the area of LA'AU's Taco Shop, 1335 Broadway, going back three years. Cowles wanted the study to look at crimes dating back five years, but the council rejected that request because it would require much more staff time.
The business is asking the city for permission to stay open until 2:30 a.m. seven days a week. Now the shop -- which is a little more than a year old and serves alcohol with its Hawaiian and South American fusion food -- closes at 9 p.m.
The Boulder Planning Board previously approved the request in a 4-2 vote, but the City Council called up the decision for review. Cowles asked for the crime assessment report ahead of the March 7 hearing.
The report concludes there were 38 assaults, seven sexual assaults, three robberies and one murder between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. related to alcohol use in the area bordered by College and Arapahoe avenues and Broadway and Ninth Street.
From 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., there were an additional 14 assaults, seven sexual assaults and one robbery that involved alcohol use, according to the report.
Because there are so few fatal car accidents and homicides in the area, police were able to tally those types of incidents beyond three years.
The most recent fatal traffic accident happened in 2001 when 21-year-old University of Colorado student Jaime Frantz was crossing University Avenue at Broadway. An employee of the Bustop Gentlemen's Club, who had been drinking, was driving home from work when she hit Frantz.
The only homicide within the study area happened last March on the corner of 10th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, where Kevin McGregor shot and killed University of New Hampshire football player Todd Walker in what prosecutors said was a botched robbery attempt. Walker and his friend, Elizabeth Roach, had attended a party on the Hill earlier that night.
The only other homicide on the Hill within the last decade happened Oct. 25, 2002, at 13th Street and Euclid Avenue. Antoine Harris shot and killed 14-year-old Charlie Castaway while he sat in a vehicle during a botched drug transaction with Castaway's older stepbrother.
On Monday, Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said it's difficult to know what the statistics mean without comparing the results to other areas on the Hill and throughout the city.
Beckner said his office responded to the council's request for statistics but did not do any additional analysis because the leaders didn't ask for it. And he said the numbers in the report don't paint a complete picture of violence on the Hill because the council only asked for information about crimes in which alcohol was a factor.
Bryce Wood, general manager of LA'AU's Taco Shop, said he's not sure what to make of the results, either.
"I don't really know how to take those numbers," he said. "I'm glad they did it. It seems like that's an important thing for us to know."
The shop has a liquor license to serve beer and margaritas, but Wood said the request to stay open late is really about serving food to the late-night crowd.
"We wouldn't even mind not serving alcohol after midnight," he said. "We just want to put food in their bellies."
Cowles, the councilman who requested the study, appears to be unsatisfied with the results. According to the council's agenda for Tuesday night's meeting, Cowles plans to ask the leaders for permission to spend 13 hours of additional police staff time to hand-search crime records going back five years.
The police chief has said that request would take extra resources and likely would be too old to be useful for identifying current problems in the area.
In an email Monday, Cowles wrote that he believes, "A better understanding of alcohol related problems on the Hill would come with a longer time horizon."
Cowles did not respond to a request for a phone interview, but the council's agenda shows that he wants another vote on extending the study because two of the council members were not present the last time he asked. At least five council members must agree for the city to conduct the broader study.
Most of the council agreed Feb. 7 that the extra work isn't worth it.
"We know about a lot of these things," Mayor Matt Appelbaum said. "I'm having trouble understanding what that data is going to change our minds about."
Deputy Mayor Lisa Morzel agreed.
"None of this is new," she said. "This area has been ground zero for fights for years."
On Monday, Councilwoman Suzy Ageton said she doesn't support an additional study.
"I do not think it will add significant value to our understanding that alcohol plays a major role in many violent offenses," she said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Heath Urie at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.