Kenmore's City Council voted Monday to ban cardrooms in the city. The vote was symbolic more than anything, because a public hearing must...

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Kenmore’s City Council voted Monday to ban cardrooms in the city.

The vote was symbolic more than anything, because a public hearing must be held before the council can vote for real to close its one existing cardroom and prevent others from opening.

But it was also indicative of the council’s strong intent to ban cardrooms in the city.

The vote came about when interim City Councilman Bert Hubka proposed banning cardrooms as of Dec. 31, 2006. The motion was seconded by Councilman Jack Crawford but died when the 2006 date was questioned.

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Crawford, a longtime advocate of banning cardrooms, then offered another idea — making the ban effective Dec. 31 of this year. That motion passed 5-2, said assistant city manager Carter Hawley, with John Hendrickson and Bob Hensel casting the two no votes.

Hubka’s seat on the council will be filled by Allan Van Ness after the general-election results are certified Nov. 29, which would further solidify the anti-cardroom vote. Hubka was appointed to temporarily replace a councilwoman who resigned earlier this year.

But first there has to be the hearing. That’s because the vote dealt with changing Kenmore’s zoning code, and city law requires a hearing before such a change.

The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 19.

The cardroom issue emerged as a central factor in City Council elections this year, with the winning candidates all saying they would vote to ban cardrooms if the issue came to a yes-or-no vote.

If the Dec. 19 public-hearing testimony doesn’t persuade the council to change its anti-cardroom inclinations, a vote to ban then would follow.

Kenmore had a reputation dating to the 1920s for its roadhouses and restaurants, but it has had just one cardroom, located in the Kenmore Lanes bowling alley. The city incorporated in 1998, and when the potential development of more cardrooms became an issue, the city imposed a moratorium on cardroom applications while allowing the Kenmore Lanes casino to continue.

A potential cardroom operator challenged the moratorium in a lawsuit, however, and in 2004 a King County Superior Court judge ruled the city either had to ban all cardrooms or open the city to others.

The prospect of more cardrooms led gambling opponents to argue that Kenmore could become home to a string of adult businesses, citing the example of Aurora Avenue North in Shoreline.

Frank Evans, owner of Kenmore Lanes and the cardroom operator, declined Tuesday to discuss his plans if the ban is imposed.

Tax money from the bowling alley and cardroom is one of the city’s biggest revenue sources. Ban opponents have questioned whether the city will be able to remain solvent and continue to provide services without the cardroom money. Ban proponents argue the city will be able to make up the loss by attracting different types of businesses, including fancier groceries.

Van Ness has even predicted a prosperous future for Kenmore Lanes, noting that with voter approval of a statewide anti-smoking law, it could be expected that more nonsmokers may be attracted to the bowling alley and its customer base could increase.

Peyton Whitely: 206-464-2259 or pwhitely@seattletimes.com