Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live


Supervisors OK rule change on amusements operation

The San Diego County Administration Building is shown on Jan. 12, 2021.
Zoë Meyers
The San Diego County Administration Building is shown on Jan. 12, 2021.

A decades-old county ordinance preventing businesses from having coin-operated amusement devices, including arcade games, in the same area where alcohol is served will be repealed next month, two supervisors announced Wednesday.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the repeal Tuesday at the behest of Supervisors Joel Anderson and Nora Vargas, who said in a joint statement the move "will provide economic opportunities for small businesses in the unincorporated county."

According to Anderson's office, the original ordinance took effect several decades ago, but the exact year was unknown.


Vargas, board vice chairwoman, said the repeal will help businesses recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Removing this outdated ordinance that prohibited coin-operated devices ... will create opportunities for economic prosperity in these regions so that everyone can thrive, and not just survive," Vargas said.

Anderson said he was glad his board colleagues "recognize the importance of removing barriers that put businesses in the unincorporated area at a disadvantage."

"I'm grateful to Vice Chair Vargas for partnering with me on this board letter," he said.

Anderson said he was motivated to act on the issue after receiving a letter from Gian Paolo Croce, who operates restaurant in Alpine. According to Anderson's office said Croce and his family took over the Mediterraneo Bistro restaurant 11 years ago — an eatery with a 25-year history in the community.


The Croce family transformed a bar into an arcade gaming room for children — but learned several months later they needed an amusement device license, and that a provision of the law barred them from having the machines in the same vicinity where alcohol was served.

Croce said the repeal of the ordinance means his restaurant "will be able to bring families together again with food, drinks and games," according to a statement released by Anderson's office.

Croce added that Anderson "jumped through so many hoops to make this thing pass, and they passed it. I'm so grateful."