LONG BEACH — It used to be known as Club Sylvia, and to the people who lived nearby, the gay bar just meant trouble with noise and traffic.
In February, Filiberto and Rita Magallanes bought the club, changed its name and began catering to a new clientele with dancing and live entertainment. Now known as Hacienda Magallanes, the club has been operating with a temporary license.
When the couple asked the City Council Tuesday for a permanent permit for the nightclub at 6101 Cherry Ave., they were told they will be granted a restricted license that will allow dancing and live entertainment only on Fridays and Saturdays--and then only until midnight. Until now, dancing and music have been allowed every day until 2 a.m.
"I think it's unfair we're being penalized for what has happened in the past," Rita Magallanes said after the 8-1 vote for the restricted permit. Councilman Evan Anderson Braude was the lone dissenter.
When Braude did not back Councilman Warren Harwood--who represents the district and led the arguments to restrict the club's operation--Vice Mayor Edd Tuttle complained about a lounge in Braude's district. Tuttle said that Fenders Ballroom on East 1st Street creates excessive noise, and he asked the city manager to return with a report on Fenders. Tuttle said he wanted the report to include any problems police might have had and also Health Department evaluations of whether the facility is violating noise standards.
Rita Magallanes said after the meeting that Harwood appeared to have gone out of his way to fight her proposal. Harwood sent forms to neighbors asking whether they supported or opposed the nightclub. An overwhelming majority of the 66 respondents said they would prefer that dancing and music be allowed only on Friday and Saturday nights, Harwood said.
The couple said it will be difficult to stay in business unless they can operate like a typical nightclub with live entertainment and remain open until 2 a.m. They said they would be willing to compromise but that the council's restrictions could put them out of business.
Hacienda Magallanes has not been the subject of any complaints to the Police Department since it opened earlier this year on an unrestricted temporary permit, according to Assistant City Manager John F. Shirey. Noise levels tested Saturday night proved to be within the acceptable range, Shirey said.
Braude and Councilman Tom Clark noted that the applicants had not requested a new use. The site has been a lounge for years, they said.
Harwood said, however, that the site has a history of trouble, creating noise and parking problems for residents. The former bar's owners have a lawsuit pending against Harwood, the city and a neighbor, charging they conspired to hurt the bar's business.
No neighbors addressed the council at the meeting Tuesday. The only two speakers from the public who argued against the lounge live several miles from Hacienda Magallanes.