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Walnut Creek Uses Conditional Use Permit to Control Effects of Nightclub

October 15, 2012

The following story is an example of a city using the conditional use permit to mitigate negative effects of certain businesses.  Occasionally, a municipality will express hesitation when considering the issuance of a conditional use permit because of the belief that a municipality is stuck with whatever is initially approved.  The following story shows that if a business is not operating in a satisfactory manner, the municipality can hold a public hearing and adjust the conditions of the conditional use permit to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of a business.

Excerpts from the Walnut Creek Patch – For the second time in a year, the city is using a Conditional Use Permit hearing to get tough on a nightclub.

The city is trying to rein in the Vice Ultra Lounge at 1251 Arroyo Way. Vice’s violations threaten public health and safety, according to a city report for the Planning Commission.

A public hearing and review of Vice’s permit, originally on the Planning Commission agenda for Sept. 13, was continued to a Oct. 25 meeting because of a lack of a quorum.

The Vice Lounge has not followed provisions of its use permit from 2009 with changes in hours and atmosphere and service of alcohol after hours, resulting in frequent disturbances in and around the club, including “drunkenness, physical violence, theft, property damage, drugs and weapons,” as cited in a detailed Sept. 13 report by the Walnut Creek Community Development Department.

Alcohol service was supposed to stop at 1:15 a.m. by terms of the permit, yet “closing time seems to result in some altercations even at 2:30 a.m.,” according to the city report by Planning Manager Steve Buckley.

The planning report concludes by recommending hours be limited to 11 p.m. “with the expectation that full compliance will be had with all other existing conditions of business.”

In February, the city imposed Conditional Use Permit changes on Lift Lounge at 1321 Locust St., including moving up the deadline for the latest sale of alcohol from 12:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. By June, a city report noted a reduction in calls for police services in and around Lift “since the City Council took action to modify the operating standards.”

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