Sometimes the best response is "none of the above." And when the question is what to do about the fast-growing bar scene on King Street above Calhoun, this is one of those times.

Ignoring the changes and running the risk of that part of the city becoming a strip of bars and little else isn't a good answer.

But the city of Charleston's first solution, to require new bars to close at midnight instead of 2 a.m., didn't sit well with the public.

And its present solution - applying that rule for only three years - is a head-scratcher. It isn't likely to be any more popular than the permanent midnight ordinance. It is unclear what happens at the end of the 36 months or why the city picked three years. And the city's changing stance isn't inspiring confidence.

Clearly, the city staff needs more time to research solutions. The Planning Commission and City Council need to have substantive conversations about the issue. And the public needs more opportunities to weigh in.

It is a complex challenge that affects residential areas that abut that area of King Street, as well as the food and beverage industry that is finding it a fertile place to do business.

Further, Charleston has become a food destination, and upper King boasts some of the area's busiest high-end restaurants.

And then there are several nearby developments under way or about to begin that will change the landscape significantly.

Perhaps the city needs to encourage daytime businesses (not bars) to locate on upper King.

Some cities with strips like it that way. Some actually work hard to establish "entertainment districts," often in an attempt to revitalize a struggling downtown.

Alabama, for example, passed a state law in 2012 that allows cities of a certain size to create such districts with relaxed open container laws. People can purchase alcoholic beverages and carry them around outside within the district.

Kansas City has the Power & Light District where open containers are allowed on the street.

The King Street area under scrutiny happened organically as run-down properties were bought, renovated and reused, many as restaurants and bars.

But now Mayor Joe Riley and his planning staff are concerned lest it become a one-use area. Such areas in other cities tend to be vibrant on weekend nights and empty the rest of the time.

King Street is also unlike most cities because of its entertainment district operating next to residential areas that find the noise, drunkenness, fighting and competition for a limited number of parking spaces intrusive.

Those things are particularly noticeable at 2 a.m., when patrons have to leave the bars and spill out onto sidewalks where they linger.

And Mayor Riley also points out that Charleston regulates other industries in order to maintain a good quality of life for residents. Restricting bars would not be much different. The city limits the number of horse-drawn carriages and their routes.

It restricts tour buses. (Still no movement toward restricting the number or size of cruise ships here.)

But there is the question of fairness. The city's initial recommended ordinance would have allowed existing bars to continue to stay open until 2 a.m. But new bars would have had to close at midnight. People have squawked at the disparity.

It is clear that upper King is at a point where it could become the bar district that the city thinks would be harmful to Charleston. And it is clear that the perfect solution hasn't been presented yet.

The staff, the Planning Commission and City Council have a lot of work to do.