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Last Call Too Loud and Too Late for Neighbors of Bluefoot Bar in North Park

On Tuesday, November 16, owners of Bluefoot Bar & Lounge in North Park, Cuong Nguyen and Adam Cook, and dozens of supporters appeared before the North Park Planning Committee looking to amend their Neighborhood Use Permit. Nguyen and Cook sought to extend their hours until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, extend café sidewalk hours from ten until midnight on those same nights, and make the Neighborhood Use Permit permanent — the owners are required to renew their permit every two years.

Tensions between nearby residents and bar owners and patrons have been brewing for years. Neighbors have complained about excessive noise coming from the bar and the sidewalk café where patrons sit outside to eat, drink, and smoke. The residents also object to the litter left behind in their neighborhood and the noise from patrons as they walk through the neighborhood to their cars.

In the days leading up to the meeting, nearly 150 residents of North park signed a petition to deny the amendments. The petition requested that instead of adding hours, the planning committee should recommend that the bar close at midnight, including Fridays and Saturdays.

"Bluefoot's owners responded by offering complimentary goodies at the bar for those who went to the meeting and showed their support," said one North Park resident after the meeting.

In the end, after all of the public comment and committee discussion, the North Park Planning Committee recommended denying the extended hours request but extending their Neighborhood Use Permit to a five-year renewal, as opposed to the current two-year requirement.

"The owners aren't cool enough to hire security and keep people quiet, so they will just continue to drive the neighbors nuts," said one resident. "Why should we enable them to keep on dumping on our neighborhood?"

Judging by the comments and amendments requested by Nguyen and Cook, the issue is not closed. The city's planning commission will deliberate on the amendments and the recommendations from the committee at a future hearing.

In the meantime, beer and spirits will continue to flow at the Bluefoot, while nearby residents await the bar's last call.

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On Tuesday, November 16, owners of Bluefoot Bar & Lounge in North Park, Cuong Nguyen and Adam Cook, and dozens of supporters appeared before the North Park Planning Committee looking to amend their Neighborhood Use Permit. Nguyen and Cook sought to extend their hours until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, extend café sidewalk hours from ten until midnight on those same nights, and make the Neighborhood Use Permit permanent — the owners are required to renew their permit every two years.

Tensions between nearby residents and bar owners and patrons have been brewing for years. Neighbors have complained about excessive noise coming from the bar and the sidewalk café where patrons sit outside to eat, drink, and smoke. The residents also object to the litter left behind in their neighborhood and the noise from patrons as they walk through the neighborhood to their cars.

In the days leading up to the meeting, nearly 150 residents of North park signed a petition to deny the amendments. The petition requested that instead of adding hours, the planning committee should recommend that the bar close at midnight, including Fridays and Saturdays.

"Bluefoot's owners responded by offering complimentary goodies at the bar for those who went to the meeting and showed their support," said one North Park resident after the meeting.

In the end, after all of the public comment and committee discussion, the North Park Planning Committee recommended denying the extended hours request but extending their Neighborhood Use Permit to a five-year renewal, as opposed to the current two-year requirement.

"The owners aren't cool enough to hire security and keep people quiet, so they will just continue to drive the neighbors nuts," said one resident. "Why should we enable them to keep on dumping on our neighborhood?"

Judging by the comments and amendments requested by Nguyen and Cook, the issue is not closed. The city's planning commission will deliberate on the amendments and the recommendations from the committee at a future hearing.

In the meantime, beer and spirits will continue to flow at the Bluefoot, while nearby residents await the bar's last call.

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Comments
10

Great Story about the Late Night issues affecting many residents living near NP's Business District. The NPPC "caved in" to the Bluefoot Owners stopping short of reducing their hours which is the only thing that will force them to hire real security "Officers" and solve the problems their Business causes. By extending the review period, they have sentenced the local residents to five years of more pain and suffering because the NPPC doesn't want to be bothered again by this issue for a while-More NIMBY Thinking...

Nov. 21, 2010

Great article--it's nice to see some media state facts and not rely on outright lies ("...nearly 150 neighbors signed a petition...") as opposed to what the owners Cook and Nguyen have been erroneously stressing for years to every committee and city agency they appear before, that "a few disgruntled neighbors are the only one's that have a problem with us, and they won't be happy until the bar is shut down". Well this time, at least the North Park Planning Committee was able to see the true facts: That Bluefoot has not fulfilled their requirement to work with the neighbors and find ways to eliminate the problems that their patrons cause leaving the bar late night. Not once in the last two years, the inaugural two year period of their NUP, have the owners approached a single neighbor to explore ways to mitigate the ongoing problems. This was not merely a suggestion of the City Planning Commission; they were specifically instructed to do so. So in the aspect of NPPC now seeing Bluefoot's total disregard for neighbors, kudos for not recommending increased hours. Unfortunately, in this cash-strapped era San Diego finds itself in, every city entity is pro business---especially when it comes to liquor, which generates big, actually huge bucks for the city. So NPPC did the neighborhood a small favor, but fell well short of making a real stand for the people that actually live near this bar. There were four members who saw through Bluefoot's smoke screens and moanful pleas, and moved to set Bluefoot in line with the zoning for the area, and require them to close at midnight daily, just as all of the restaurants, and ln fact, every business in this particular area is required to do. A huge 'THANK YOU' to them! They have the insight and wisdom to know that it is the people, the residents, the neighborhood that make a community, not the drunks that scream and yell, urinate, vomit and vandalize property as they stagger to their cars to drive away from that same neighborhood.

We neighbors can only hold on to the hope that the Planning Commission will see the true picture as well, and set Bluefoot into comliance with the zoning that exists precisely to prevent these types of problems.

Adam and Cuong, run your bar---make a fortune with it---we wish you the best---but when you are making your money to the detriment of many, many who live here and who suffer because of it, then something needs to change.

Nov. 22, 2010

Great factual post describing Bluefoot's Late Night Problems that the majority of the North Park Planning Committee (NPPC) just don't want to deal with!

Now all the local residents will just have to wait for the decision from Renee Mezo*, who will be making the decision on the Bluefoot Neighborhood Use Permit (NUP) on behalf of the City's Development Services Department taking into consideration the motion and minutes from the NPPC meeting and input from all the NP residents.

*Renee Mezo Development Project Manager Development Services Dept. (DSD) Work (619) 446-5001

Nov. 22, 2010

I found it interesting that the outside patio area which is essentially the smoking section, has become a "sidewalk cafe" even though the owners stated they don't serve any food. I tend to have a cigarette myself sometimes when I drink, so have no problem with bars having a smoking section, but what's up with the glorification of it. I live a block away and sleep at the back of the house yet I'm routinely woken up around 2 am at the weekends-as well as clearing away the adornment of bottles, cans and cigarette butts patrons seem to consistently stash in my garden- and have concerns about the obvious increase of drunk drivers (as in plastered) in our neighborhood. It's a popular bar- kudos to them for that- but 12 pm every night of the week would be a welcomed outcome in my book.

Nov. 22, 2010

About 150 other local residents agree with you!

The question now is does that matter to the City and to our elected CD3 Councilmember?

Nov. 23, 2010

BTW: Word is out that Bluefoot has re-submitted it's NUP!

Who made this decision?

What going on "behind closed doors?'

When did this happen?

Why are we not hearing about from the City, instead of by word of mouth?

Will this start an entirely new NUP review process and require another NPPC action item vote?

Will the City be re-noticing everyone that signed the petition or just those got noticed before?

Nov. 27, 2010

I wrote the author and editor after this article appeared. Despite my request, the second article Dorian wrote does not seem to have made any effort to be balanced either. So perhaps the public should have access to an opposing opinion--since this is quite obviously an opinion piece that has no business being in the “Neighborhood News” section.

"I was disappointed upon reading your coverage of the Bluefoot Bar issue. Did you speak to any of the bar's many supporters, or the owners themselves? Considering your statement that "dozens" of supporters were at the meeting for Bluefoot, I find it impossible to understand how the only quotes you've included are those of the opposition.

I noticed that you managed to include "nearly 150 residents" of NP signed the opposition’s petition, but didn't note the overwhelming neighborhood support that Bluefoot received. It also would have been more informative if you had included the fact that no more than five close neighbors have spent the last few weeks canvassing all of North Park with their petition. I’ve actually spoken to people who had no idea that what they signed stated a desire to restrict the hours of Bluefoot until midnight, and others who did not even have the knowledge of the bar or area to know that they do not serve food at the establishment. Many seemed equally uninformed of how long the location has been a bar, and the previously conforming rights that exist to operate as such.

You neglected to mention anything about how many glowing remarks were made by the members of the Committee (who ended up denying the requested extensions in a stunning display of hypocrisy). The fact that the owners of the Bluefoot Bar have been instrumental in cleaning up the neighborhood was confirmed by members of the Committee and public comments many times that night, and deserved mention in your article. The fact that the owners are both residents of North Park and neighbors of the bar themselves also could have given perspective to your story.

To top everything off, you printed a quote that was a blatant lie ("the owners don't hire security and keep people quiet"). A very simple peek at their staff's schedule would prove this to be untrue. The bar actually employs MORE security that they are legally required to.

(continued)

Dec. 8, 2010

Perhaps you should take a look at the "incriminating" video the neighbors provided to Channel 8. Contrary to their intentions, the Bluefoot appears to be one of the quietest popular bars I've ever seen. I only live a block away, so I don't need their video to prove what I already know--this bar is not a problem. As the police said in their statement to the Board--"this bar isn't even on our radar." And remember, this bar DID used to be on their radar.

These angry neighbors bought their homes next to a drive-thru and a bar that has been in existence for 75 years. The fact that they are attempting to place sanctions on such a long-established location based on gross exaggerations is appalling. The fact that your staff chose to portray this issue with such a slant is even more appalling. The bias of this article left a bad taste in my mouth, and I will keep it in mind every time I consider picking up a Reader."

See the "follow-up" article Dorian wrote:

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2010/dec/07/bar-brawl-north-park-rages/#comment_form

Dec. 8, 2010

@Dalestresident: “Sidewalk café” is the term used by the City and State to discuss outdoor patios. You’ll have to ask them what’s up with the “glorification” of their terminology.

Dec. 8, 2010

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