Several patrons wearing stickers that read "I Support Bluefoot" crammed into a meeting room in city hall on March 10. They were there to ask San Diego's planning commission to uphold the neighborhood use permit granted last December to North Park bar the Bluefoot Lounge.
Days after the city issued the permit, North Park resident Jaime Rosales filed an appeal.
Rosales claimed that the bar should not have a permit to serve distilled spirits because of zoning requirements, that Bluefoot negatively affects the health, safety, and welfare of the neighborhood, and that the owners failed to mitigate any negative impacts to the local residents.
The issues are not new and have been fermenting since the bar opened in 2006.
Neighbors say the bar's owners, Adam Cook and Cuong Nguyen, don't do enough to keep the drunken revelry from spilling out into their neighborhood. Cook, Nguyen, and their supporters say neighbors are targeting the bar and its patrons and are unwilling to work with them to find a solution.
Both sides stated their case throughout the six-hour hearing.
During public testimony, North Park resident Mark Nail, who lives near the corner of Upas and 30th Street, played commissioners a video of a fight between bar staff and unruly patrons that had poured out into the neighborhood one night.
"If you ask [Bluefoot's owners], there is no problem," Nail told commissioners. "In the past two years, Bluefoot's owners have made no effort to meet and improve this situation. Late at night, drunk patrons loiter in our neighborhood, smoke pot in our driveways, and urinate and defecate on our lawns."
Bluefoot's owners, Cook and Nguyen, say efforts to reduce the impacts to the neighborhood have gone unnoticed. They gave examples such as setting up late-night noise patrols and a hotline for neighbors to call with noise complaints.
"We've been here five years and they’ve done everything to try and shut us down," said Nguyen. "If our hours are reduced, it would be detrimental...we would have to shut down. We couldn't compete with the other bars."
The planning commissioners understood both sides but expressed frustration that nothing had been done to resolve the issues.
"Here we are two years later and we're having a similar meeting, hearing similar statements from the same people. I find it really disappointing," said Eric Naslund, chair of San Diego's planning commission.
In the end, the planning commission voted to amend the permit, allowing the bar to keep its current hours while reducing their permit to two years. Commissioners also recommended that neighbors and bar owners conduct meetings to find a solution before their permit expires in 2012.