A nightclub will not be able to open in the building that once housed Club Leon after the Manteca City Council passed an urgency ordinance Tuesday but a bar could.
That’s because a bar would be a grandfathered use even with the city moving forward with an overlay zone designed to attract “the right kind of business” needed to make the downtown core more appealing to investors willing to put in shops and restaurants needed to bring more people into the central district.
The council action Tuesday effectively stopped an applicant from moving forward with plans for a nightclub at 220 W. Yosemite Ave. The council also directed staff to refund the $4,554 application fee.
Nightclubs per se are considered too intense of a use as well as create public safety issues based on the council decision.
City planner Mark Meissner said special use permits could allow less intense uses such as limited entertainment including comedy shows in conjunction with a bar setting. Besides the building once housing a bar and billiards the new overlay uses allows bars as long as they are not within 300 feet of each other as well as brew pubs and wine tasting rooms.
The previous tenant had morphed the business into a night club without getting proper permits,
Council members repeatedly stressed they needed to “do the right thing” and step up to assist the effort led by the Manteca Chamber of Commerce to move downtown forward.
“It’s not that I’m against business,” Mayor Steve DeBrum said before emphasizing that they need to be the right fit.
Landlord Pat Ferrell noted after Club Leon opened in the last decade the problems it created drove three longtime tenants out of business creating vacancies in a building he owned along Yosemite Avenue that have been hard to fill.
Ferrell — who along with his wife invested close to $1 million in property they owned along Maple Avenue — lauded the council’s decision.
“We will put our money where our mouth is,” Ferrell promised of their property in the 200 block of West Yosemite Avenue.
Longtime downtown merchant Brenda Franklin noted a conscious decision by Maple Avenue property owners not to simply rent to the first person that came along and instead look for the right tenants has helped fill all spaces along the 100 block as well as create foot traffic that helps all businesses on Maple.
The urgency ordinance that will expire in 45 days to bridge the time a non-urgency ordinance adopted last month has before it has the full effect of law creates two zoning districts. The area encompassing the downtown core that is targeted for more intense pedestrian uses is known as Central Business District Overlay Zone 1 (shown in yellowish-green on the accompanying map). The other is Central Business District Overlay Zone 2 (shown in light blue on the accompanying map).
Use that are not allowed in the downtown core are all residential uses, adult-orientated businesses, alcoholic beverage sales, hotels and motels, nightclubs, funeral homes, car washing and detailing, and recycling collection facilities.
Allowed with a minor use permit are tasting rooms and brew pubs.
Businesses that can locate in the core downtown district with a conditional use permit are massage therapy, bar, maintenance and repair of small equipment, grocery store, child day care center, drive-in and drive-thru uses, schools and training studios, libraries, museums, indoor fitness and sports facility, community garden, transit station, indoor amusement/entertainment facility, and agricultural tourism.
Among the allowed uses are animal keeping/domestic pets, animal sales and grooming, assembly uses, theater/auditorium, park and ride facility, public safety facility, parking facility, wireless telecommunication facility, utility facility, convenience store, general medical service, restaurant, general retail, personnel services, business and professional offices, and auto part sales.
The proposed nightclub had an envisioned occupancy of 652 persons. City staff noted the plan was to attract large crowds to the downtown that would severely impact limited parking resources as well as public safety resources.
A prior use of a similar type averaged between 25 to 50 calls for police service during each year of operation, leading to investigations for theft, drug possession and sales, stolen vehicles, underage drinking, prostitution, DUIs, and criminal misconduct. On band nights, the police department observed over 400 people in and around the location of the current application.
Club Leon generated
major crime issues
Club Leon was arguably the most negative business venture in at least the past 30 years in terms of impacts on downtown.
In mid-2009 then Police Chief Dave Bricker successfully yanked the nightclub’s dance permit after discovering its business permit had expired and the owner hadn’t applied for a new one. After the owner submitted a request for a new permit it was discovered that the original permit only allowed for a lounge and billiard hall and not a dance hall as it had been operating as
The decision was based on a long laundry list of issues.
The club’s dance patrons – a number of who become intoxicated – had been blamed for excessive police calls, littering, public urination, disorderly conduct, and other issues in the downtown area.
Manteca Police also weren’t getting cooperation from the owner to reduce the calls for officers – many to break up fights and to handle assault complaints — that hit a city-high 40 during a 12-month period ending May 31, 2009
Other reasons included:
As many as five minors at a time being found repeatedly in the business that also had a bar.
An incident where police responded to Food-4-Less on and found Club Leon employees trying to pass counterfeit money to purchase alcohol for the bar. It is a violation of the Alcoholic Beverage Control regulations to buy alcohol for a bar at a retailer like Food-4-Less.
The doors being locked in violation of the fire code.
The dance hall being over the legal capacity.
A male patron who said he was assaulted by a club bouncer.
ABC agents also finding minors in the bar or more than one occasion.
Numerous complaints from surrounding business owners regarding public intoxication, urination, vandalism, and trash resulting from Club Leon.
The ABC had suspended the alcohol license twice in a year for the previously listed violations.
The chamber in conjunction with downtown businesses started working with former City Manager Karen McLaughlin earlier this year to advance the zoning changes. The ideas didn’t start being processed by the community development department until September, a month after the application was first made for the nightclub. After the city responded to the nightclub permit request within the time period required by law, the applicant worked on the responses for several, months before resubmitting it earlier last month.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail email@example.com