Denizens of Mid-City communities North Park and Hillcrest want to be treated more like the Gaslamp District, at least in terms of the requirements placed on large nightclubs, bars, and other late-night party places.
In recent months, many residents have become intolerant of large nightclubs and bars in their communities. Cited problems include parking, litter left behind by raging revelers, and noise from establishments and patrons. They say that the City’s planning department has ignored the requirements laid out in the municipal code — the same requirements that are enforced in other areas of the city, such as in the Gaslamp.
There, and in other parts of downtown, those wishing to open nightclubs and bars 5000 square feet in size or larger are required to obtain a conditional use permit as outlined in the City’s municipal code; whereas, in North Park, Hillcrest, and other Uptown communities, the ordinance has been placed on the top shelf, out of reach from residents.
Proper enforcement of Municipal Code Section 141.0614 would give residents the opportunity to appeal to the city council and/or the city’s planning commission the issuance of a permit for large nightclubs, bars, and late-night restaurants.
“The idea is not to discourage nightclubs but is just to properly regulate them, as laid out in the city code,” says Leo Wilson, chair of the Uptown Planners and a proponent for better enforcement of the conditional use permit requirement in Uptown and North Park. “We consider what they’re pushing in Pacific Beach a bit too draconian,” adds Wilson, referring to the effort by some in the beachside community to require conditional use permits for all alcohol establishments, regardless of size and use.
“We are a little more business-friendly. It just gives us a discretionary handle on these establishments,” says Wilson, who also favors using an expedited review process, similar to that used in downtown.
On July 7, District 3 representative Todd Gloria took up the issue by sending a memo to city attorney Jan Goldsmith, asking for clarification on the ordinance.
“It has come to my attention that this ordinance is not enforced in North Park or Uptown as it is Downtown,” reads Gloria’s memo.
The memo goes on to ask whether the ordinance is retroactive, is applicable for businesses that have changed ownership, and whether there can be an expedited process available to those persons looking to open a large nightspot.
Deputy chief of staff for Todd Gloria’s office Katie Keach says the councilmember is still waiting to hear back from the city attorney.