A Little Italy restaurant and club that had been keeping neighbors up at night with loud music will have to fight to stay open at a Civic San Diego hearing.
On Wednesday (March 16), the Downtown Community Planning Council voted almost unanimously to revoke the club's conditional use permit that allows it to operate.
1953 India Street, Little Italy
According to residents of Finestra Lofts, the noise from the club — which describes itself as a “speakeasy” — began to worsen in November of last year, getting far louder and continuing later into the early-morning hours on Thursdays through Sundays. Tenants said the bass was so loud they could identify the song, and, once, during a call to police, the operator remarked about how loud the music was.
"Up until Halloween, we were living in a peaceful, quiet building that we all love and adore," said Stacy Soefer. "Unfortunately, Entrada's owners have made my unit unlivable and seriously disturb the others. We are at our wits' end."
Other neighbors talked about watching mirrors dance against the wall as vibrations from the club shook their homes. The lofts have eight units and the residents of at least six were involved in the complaints, along with the building manager. They said they called the police countless times with little success. Police came late, if at all, the residents said. And they usually told the residents there was nothing they could do.
But the 13 calls to police — including some in which police verified that the music was audible in the lofts — mattered. The record of those calls has become part of the staff recommendation to revoke the permit.
Entrada, at 1953 India Street, has been operating on a permit that was issued to Crudo in 2005 — several owners and businesses ago. The permit was amended in 2008 over similar complaints of noise and vibrations affecting neighboring residences. It allows live performances, including DJs, on Friday and Saturday to 1 a.m. and on Sunday until midnight.
Civic San Diego contacted owner Michael Viscuso in November, and Viscuso told them he would have insulation installed to block the noise, according to the staff reports. In December, Viscuso submitted a report showing that insulation had reduced the noise so that when the sound in the club was at 86 decibels, it measured 60 decibels on the wall next to the lofts. The threshold for commercial properties is 65 decibels.
In January, the San Diego Police Department ordered Entrada to stop hosting live music until the complaints were resolved, according to records. But within two weeks, and with a consultant's report that the problems were fixed, Entrada resumed the DJ festivities. But the owner and residents of the lofts resumed their complaints as well — after less than two weeks of peace.
In February, Civic San Diego staff visited the lofts while the Entrada party was in full swing and found that "the impacts of the noise were evident and the music was indeed audible through the wall," according to the staff report.
Downtown Community Planning Council chairman Pat Stark said the hearing may have been the first time it rejected a business's appeal to try to find a solution.
"Our membership is typically receptive to business but we are also sensitive to the idea that people who live here should have some peace and quiet," Stark said. "The ownership had the opportunity to address the issue more than once."