MARTINEZ -- The City Council has extended for six months a ban on new bars opening downtown while staff explore additional regulations.

In late July, the council approved a 45-day moratorium due to concerns about fights, arrests and public drunkenness linked to the city's drinking establishments.

Restaurants can open in downtown Martinez without going through a regulatory process, while bars require a use permit and a hearing. But city staff believe the zoning ordinance doesn't define the terms "restaurant" and "bar" clearly enough to distinguish places that serve full meals from those that sell alcoholic beverages and offer limited food.

In addition to a tighter definition of a bar, the council may consider requiring a minimum distance between bars or prohibiting new bars in the downtown or on a specific street.

Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.