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Solana Beach Nightclub Assails Crowd Restriction

January 21, 1987|JENIFER WARREN | Times Staff Writer

In what a spokesman for Club Diego's called a "shocking, punitive action," the Solana Beach City Council has temporarily cut the nightclub's capacity by more than half the number its permit allows.

The council Monday night voted, 3-2, to limit to 300 the number of patrons permitted in the club and adjoining Mexican restaurant on Old Highway 101. That limit will remain in force at least until Feb. 17, when a public hearing will be held on allowing the club to raise the occupancy to 678.

The action is the latest in a long-running battle between Solana Beach officials and the nightclub, approved by the county Board of Supervisors before the city incorporated last June. Since it opened last summer, Diego's has repeatedly violated its crowd limit and drawn complaints from residents who say patrons are noisy and monopolize parking.

The club's county use permit initially restricted Diego's to 300 patrons but provided for a capacity increase if the nightclub obtained additional parking. Diego's owners did so, but a building moratorium in Solana Beach prevented the council from processing a permit amendment to raise the occupancy.

Still, the city permitted the club to admit the increased capacity with the understanding that the permit would be amended to legally allow for more patrons once the moratorium was eased. That happened Dec. 17, but Diego's officials did not apply for the amendment until Monday morning, City Manager Michael Huse said.

The City Council felt that was too late and imposed the 300-person restriction "because of an apparent lack of response on the part of Diego's," Huse said. Council members Jack Moore and Marion Dodson opposed the action.

John Cross, Diego's director of marketing, called the vote a "total surprise" that "hurts the positive rapport we've been building with the community." He said a cap of 300 will "make it real tough to do business," and explained that the application to the city was late "because of a mix-up."

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