Correcting the Record on the Blondies Commentary

Beer Bar Stock

beer-bar

In our commentary on Blondies yesterday, we wrote, “If staff wanted to allow Blondies to open and operate as the council and community weighed in on what changes they wanted to see, then it stands to reason that they might have offered alternative language that would have been acceptable. But they didn’t go that route, and instead offered a legalese-encoded blanket denial that is likely to end up with a lawsuit and some sort of settlement down the line.”

However, we missed a short but critical section on page 9 of the staff report, “Options available to the City Council.”

Staff writes, “The Council may deny the request, or approve the request, with or without conditions. Staff recommends the request be denied, based upon the findings within this report. As an alternative, the City Council could explore whether there is a set of conditions under which some or all of the restaurant could be allowed to proceed through building permit, construction, and occupancy. Staff has suggested potential conditions including closing at 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. and prohibition against entertainment uses. Thus far, these have not been acceptable to the applicant.”

The Vanguard strives for accuracy in both its reporting and its commentaries and apologizes for this error and oversight.

With this new information, we believe the potential conditions of closing at 10 or 11 pm, when Little Prague closed at 2 am, and prohibition against entertainment uses are non-starters. Therefore, despite the fact that city staff does specify alternatives, we stand by our conclusion.

Staff writes, “The conditional agreement proposed by the application reads ‘Blondies New York Pizza Company shall comply at the effective date with future City ordinance or regulations that are applicable to all restaurants with ABC 47 licenses in the City’s Commercial Zone and do not violate State or federal law; provided that all other restaurants with ABC 47 licenses in the CC Zone must comply within a year.’”

Staff then argues that it “does not believe that this conditional offer is sufficient to support an exemption from the moratorium. Staff also does not believe that this conditional offer would assure compliance with any new regulations adopted by the City.”

They continue, “Staff believes that this proposed agreement does not provide the City with the same authority the City would have if Blondies is not permitted to open until the City has determined what new zoning and operational regulations would apply to new nightclub uses and the moratorium is then dissolved.”

As we wrote, “If staff wanted to allow Blondies to open and operate as the council and community weighed in on what changes they wanted to see, then it stands to reason that they might have offered alternative language that would have been acceptable.”

As it turns out they offered potential conditions for acceptance, but not alternative language, that would have fixed Blondies’ conditional offer. Therefore, we stand by our conclusion, with the corrected information.

Click here to read the Sunday Commentary: Is Blondies a Political Football in This Discussion?

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

62 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    we believe the potential conditions of closing at 10 or 11 pm, when Little Prague closed at 2 am, and prohibition against entertainment uses are non-starters.

    I am curious about why you would consider an earlier closing time a “non-starter”. Do you believe that the city does not have the right to suggest this as an alternative ? Do you believe that, as one poster has postulated that this limitation would “put them out of business” ? I find the latter idea highly unlikely  in view of the owner of Tres Hermanas voluntary restriction and the fact that Blondie’s is an expanding business, not a new start or Mom and Pop struggling to survive.

      1. Tia Will

        For one thing, Blondies rejected them”

        Yes, and that is their choice. Just as if I cannot build my planned house on the lot that I had selected because my plan does not meet the specifications for that area, I would have to choose another location, or modify my plan.

        1. David Greenwald

          You asked a specific question which was why did I consider it a non-starter.

          “Just as if I cannot build my planned house on the lot that I had selected because my plan does not meet the specifications for that area, I would have to choose another location, or modify my plan.”

          The problem with this is comment is that your analogy would be: your plan meets current specifications for the area, but your neighbors don’t like those specifications, and so after you purchased the property, they have gotten council to put a moratorium on new houses and the city has only allowed you a waiver if you agree to completely modify your plans.

    1. Alan Miller

      I am curious about why you would consider an earlier closing time a “non-starter”.

      “non-starter” is a term used by blowhards to sound big when they actually don’t have the ability to do anything.  Kind of like a blowfish — although, I must admit, the blowfish thing works for blowfish.

  2. Barack Palin

     find the latter idea highly unlikely  in view of the owner of Tres Hermanas voluntary restriction and the fact that Blondie’s is an expanding business, not a new start or Mom and Pop struggling to survive.

    How do you know what it takes for individual businesses to survive in Davis.  Comparing one restaurant’s model to another’s has many factors involved.  Blondies will have to build up a clientele unlike Tres Hermanas who already has established itself in Davis.

    1. Tia Will

      BP

      How do you know what it takes for individual businesses to survive in Davis.”

      I don’t know. I was asking for David’s reasoning. My belief that the nightclub scene is not the only possible successful model is based on my observation that there are many successful restaurants in town that do not convert into nightclubs after the dinner service is over.  I agree with you that there are many factors involved. And I think that it is apparent that having a nightclub is not a prerequisite for success.

        1. Tia Will

          David

          Do you believe that the city has the right to weigh in on which models we would rather have in our community ?  I don’t mean to be argumentative. I just see this as a valid question and maybe one that needs to be considered at this point in time.

          1. David Greenwald

            Yes. But my concern here is that we are only listening to one vocal segment of the community.

        2. Barack Palin

          Do you believe that the city has the right to weigh in on which models we would rather have in our community ?

          Who’s we?  This always gets me, is “we” the few that always seem to have the council’s ear or is “we” the whole community including the students and those that like to frequent these clubs?

        3. Alan Miller

          my concern here is that we are only listening to one vocal segment of the community.

          Unlike when “one vocal segment” agrees with him — then he doesn’t use that hollow argument.

  3. PhilColeman

    The true character of a person is never measurable when they are right. It’s the reaction when the person is wrong.

    People who can never admit to an error can be easily dismissed as having no character at all. And everybody has made multiple errors, some of them never detected by anybody, including the person responsible.

    1. Alan Miller

      The true character of a person is never measurable when they are right. It’s the reaction when the person is wrong.

      Thus I say Sergio is a man of character.  He will also prove Frank Lee’s “can’t survive without a nightclub” theory dead F—ing wrong.

      1. Frankly

        You better plan on eating a lot of enchiladas to make up for all that operating revenue Sergio will lose.

        I suspect this change will cause him financial trouble.

        1. Alan Miller

          You better plan on eating a lot of enchiladas to make up for all that operating revenue Sergio will lose.  I suspect this change will cause him financial trouble.

          Yes because *I* caused him to make this business decision, Frank Lee, not his having a knife pulled on one of his employees, not to mention his seeing the writing on the wall.  You ascribe me with amazing powers.  Thank you.

  4. Tia Will

    Phil

    The true character of a person is never measurable when they are right. It’s the reaction when the person is wrong.

    People who can never admit to an error can be easily dismissed as having no character at all. And everybody has made multiple errors, some of them never detected by anybody, including the person responsible.”

    Are you posting on the correct thread ?  This would seem more applicable to the Eye on the Courts thread.

  5. Tia Will

    Who’s we?  This always gets me, is “we” the few that always seem to have the council’s ear or is “we” the whole community including the students and those that like to frequent these clubs?”

    It is my understanding that this is why the forum is being held. The idea is to hear the voices of anyone who cares to come and participate. Personally, I think that we ( meaning both sides ) are jumping the gun by withdrawing to our respective quarters before we have even had a thorough discussion of the issues. I think that there is a lot of room for cooperation and consensus building here if we will actually listen to each others concerns.

     

  6. Tia Will

    David

     they have gotten council to put a moratorium on new houses and the city has only allowed you a waiver if you agree to completely modify your plans.”

    Agreed as far as you went. However, to complete the analogy, it needs to be pointed out that the new rules would not apply only to my house, but also to the houses of everyone who continued to not to meet the new specifications. In other words, not only could I not build according to plan, but all of the owners of existing homes would have to modify theirs to meet the new code. I do not see this as imposing a special burden on me…..a burden, yes…..a unique burden requiring a special consideration for me…no.

  7. hpierce

    Usually, when  a business comes to town, they do their “due diligence”… check out the property, see what the previous use was, how that business did, etc… AND talk to staff… to see if there are any “issues” that are not apparent.  Unless staff told them that the @AM, and/or “nightclub” thing was iffy/dicey, they would then prepare plans, submit them,negotiate a lease with the owner.  From David’s previous accounts, it can be surmised that this happened.  Oh, and the previous tenant/business had a nightclub use and was open until 2 AM.

    And then, due to an incident a block away, the rules changed “mid-game”.  Not exactly “fair”.  Not sure if necessary.  Seems like a ‘political football’ analogy is justified, to me.

      1. hpierce

        Honestly don’t know the full nuances,  but if two ducks walk and quack the same, and you granted a CUP for a previous ‘same use, same location’, why would the expectation be different?  Or, would you have us go the the “Chicago” model of being arbitrary, or needing a ‘contribution’ to grant an approval?

        ABC has the main say-so, but they heavily weigh the agency’s recommendation.

        Am thinking here, many would be good with a “mini-Chicago”, arbitrary model.  Discretionary, based on ‘standards’ is one thing… one I strongly support.  Changes to ‘standards’ mid stream, particularly if “capricious and/or arbitrary” (and/or political), reactionary, whim, etc.  stinks of corruption and/or bad government to me.

        Hope that answers your question, which I assume was “fairly” made.

        And to be clear, I don’t give a damn if Blondies moves forward… I am damn concerned about process and fairness in government decisions.

  8. Anon

    Yes. But my concern here is that we are only listening to one vocal segment of the community.

    One vocal segment of the community?  What if that vocal segment of the community represents a majority?

    I appreciate the Vanguard’s clarification, which answers some questions I raised about allowing alternatives to the new applicant.  The new applicant painted themselves as a family-friendly Chucky-Cheese type establishment when they clearly have no intention of being that.  Already that raises red flags in my book, and is reason enough for the city to hit the “pause button” to think through what kind of city it wants to be, what things it might want to do in mitigation of a possible growing problem.  Not all the evidence is in yet, e.g. results of ABC investigation.

    Again I reiterate, from a legal perspective, the city staff’s recommendation is the correct one.  I am sure the city attorney was consulted on this one.

     

    1. Anon

      As per my post from yesterday:

      The principle here is very straightforward and simple.  Staff’s reasoning is not a “legal technicality”.  A contract is not binding if the exact terms are not specified.  The city cannot put terms in a contract if the City Council hasn’t decided exactly what those terms will be yet.  Black letter law: “An express contract is an actual agreement of the parties, the terms of which are openly uttered or declared at the time of the making it, being stated in distinct and explicit language, either orally or in writing.

    2. hpierce

      Uh, you know how the City attorney weighs in on staff recommendations, right?  “fatal flaws”, “defendable”, “required”…. NOT “right” or “wrong” as you understand it.  I agree though, Harriet MUST have been consulted as to the first three criteria.  And I have had confidence in her and her firm’s counsel for many years.  I suspect her response was “defendable”, with advice as to how much so.

      1. Anon

        I said nothing about “right” vs “wrong”.  What I said was that a contract is not legally enforceable if its terms are not yet decided upon (w some very limited exceptions which don’t apply here).

    3. hpierce

      50.0001% percent would make a majority except majorities requiring a 2/3 vote.  And changing uses for land outside City limits requires the 2/3.  Why should changing a recently previous use, same location, be different?  [Now that we have established (or you have at least implied) it should be vox populi rather than “standards”]  Am thinking, given the history, ABC should be able to do their own thing, but for the public it should take a 2/3 majority to change it (that would translate to a 4/5 vote on CC), unless substantive differences can be justified.

      Or, make it a City-wide policy, and when ABC, CUP permits are up for review, deny (or recommend denial in the case of ABC) to them all.  Fish or cut bait.

      1. Anon

        I’m not sure why you are assuming the City Council is going to be arbitrary and capricious in determining the nightclub issue.  I would assume whatever regulations the city might come up with would equally apply to all nightclubs in town.  That is a totally different issue than whether the city should have hit the “pause” button on the Blondies project, which I think was certainly wise under the circumstances, from a legal perspective and from a practical one.

  9. David Greenwald

    Anon: I don’t believe they require a conditional use permit for this. When I requested to see the one for KetMoRee I was told they were not required to have one. I believe the same would be the case for Blondies

    1. Anon

      David, that might be something to investigate.  How exactly are the nightclubs getting approved?  Is it under a conditional use permit, or ABC approval only, or what exactly?  Otherwise we are flying blind.  There must be some sort of permission given by the city I would think… but just not sure.

  10. failsafe

    As a student, I can say most of my friends think the nightclub scene is for a certain type of student, and definitely not us.   The owners are skilled at removing money from those types of students’ wallets.    Others are attracted to this as well, like outsiders, who know what the game is.     It is like Las Vegas- or casinos- create a scene where you can get the most amount of people drunk and it becomes easier to remove money from their wallet.    I know my friends and I prefer the smaller places.

    1. Anon

      Thank you for pointing out another issue – how cover charges seem to change within a single night.  I suspect there may be some scams by bouncers going on.  When I investigated the whole nightclub scene on DavisWiki and Yelp, some customers talked about being charged as much as $50 for a cover charge as the nightclub got more crowded.  If I were to hazard a guess, what might be going on is the establishment itself has a set cover charge (e.g $10), but individual bouncers are unilaterally upping the cover charge at the door and pocketing the difference ($40).  Customers should be aware of the possibility of price gouging and complain to management at the particular establishment where they think they may have been cheated.

  11. Michael Harrington

    Blondies website says nothing about a bar scene and they talk about 10 pm closing

    Is there another web link that shows the 10 pm to 2 am business description ?

    Maybe a second company “leasing” the late night facility?

      1. DanH

        The link I posted above stopped working sometime during the last hour. However, the same Blondies promo video is still up on Facebook. It’s on the left side of the page.

        https://www.facebook.com/Blondiesbarandgrill

        Looks like this Vacaville establishment at 555 Main Street has a pizza joint at street level and the club below. Nice location right next to the pretty Creekwalk Bridge. I’m sure Vacaville is proud of this fine business. Judging from the video Blondies offers young adults a location for burning a hole in their pockets while getting inebriated, playing beer pong and slapping some female tail.

         

        1. Anon

          Yes, just what we want our young adults to do in their free time – encourage them to run the danger of alcohol poisoning and to commit sexual assault, as well as encourage them to have their pockets fleeced by local businesses, etc. What appropriate lessons to teach those who will have the future of the world in their hands – NOT!

  12. Frankly

    Residents of the community want nightclubs = restaurants and bars become nightclubs.

    Residents of the community don’t eat out much = restaurants and bars become nightclubs.

    One of those we cannot control… the other we can.  And I suspect that I spend more money at the restaurants than every one of the people demanding we restrict or ban the nightclubs… especially Alan Miller, Tia Will and Anon.

    1. Alan Miller

      F-you, Frank Lee.  I eat out downtown all the time, multiple times per week, have for the last 30 years.  I support many downtown businesses with my dollars.  What I haven’t done is ever eat at the establishments that turn into night clubs.  EVER.  Stop using personal attacks about things of which you do not know, and stick to real arguments.  What is it lawyers say, don’t ask questions in court when you don’t know the answers . . . for you, don’t make implications on people personally about things that you are dead wrong about.

    2. Anon

      Frankly: “One of those we cannot control… the other we can.  And I suspect that I spend more money at the restaurants than every one of the people demanding we restrict or ban the nightclubs… especially Alan Miller, Tia Will and Anon.

      I don’t even understand your point, besides the fact you have no idea what any one of the named individuals habits are.

  13. Tia Will

    Frankly

    And on what exactly are you basing the suspicion that you spend “more money at the restaurants than …..” What exactly do you know about my eating habits ?  Or have you gone directly from knowing more about my mind than I do to knowing more about the contents of my stomach than I do ?

     

    1. Alan Miller

      have you gone directly from knowing more about my mind than I do to knowing more about the contents of my stomach than I do

      I do know one thing about the contents of Frank Lee’s stomach about now:  it contains his foot.

  14. Tia Will

    Anon

    just what we want our young adults to do in their free time – encourage them to run the danger of alcohol poisoning and to commit sexual assault”

    Anon makes a very good point about alcohol poisoning. For me, the point is not about morality. I suspect from previous posts that Anon and I have quite different views on that issue. However, for me only, that is irrelevant. From the point of view of a local doctor concerned about both individual and community health and wellness, the risks are real and very, very “material”.

    As a local ob/gyn, there is not a day when I am in my Davis office that I do not hear the following story.”I want to be tested for STDs. I don’t know what happened. I was too drunk to remember so I just want to be safe.” Never mind the obvious observation that it is not the testing, but rather the avoidance of the risky behavior that will make her safer. As a doctor it is my job to improve her overall safety as well as take care of any physical conditions that she may have acquired along the way. As such I am not doing my job if I do not test for and treat any STDs. I am likewise not doing my job if I do not caution her about the inherent risk involved in her behavior.

    While it is true that we cannot stop people from drinking to excess, it is equally true that we do not have to promote the activities that put them at risk. We do not have to choose to encourage, either for the profit of individual businesses or the city coffers, the exact same activities that put these young people at risk as well as creating “material harm” for the surrounding residents.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    1. Anon

      “Anon makes a very good point about alcohol poisoning. For me, the point is not about morality.”

      Sorry, but I think it is immoral for a city to encourage behavior that would seriously endanger the health of young adults.  Not only that, it is illegal.  Bartenders are not supposed to be selling drinks to customers that are already clearly inebriated under liquor license laws.

      1. Alan Miller

        Bartenders are not supposed to be selling drinks to customers that are already clearly inebriated under liquor license laws.

        Yeah, and drivers are not supposed to drive drunk after drinking at the nightclubs; and men are not supposed to feed their drinks to underage women and take advantage of them; and bouncers are supposed to keep weapons out of the nightclubs; and people under 18 are not supposed to pre-drink in the Amtrak parking lot before going into the nightclubs; and inebriated people walking home from the bars are not supposed to knock over our garbage cans and kick in our fences when they walk home from the nightclubs and . . . . supposed, supposed, supposed . . . 

  15. Alan Miller

    Frank Lee, just to pile on about how wrong you are when you make personal accusations, here you accuse me and the Old East members in comments from a 10/9 piece, and again you are dead wrong:

    I might be wrong about this,

    You are.

    but my experience is that simply the change is driving 80% of the resistance.

    I have walked the entire neighborhood, and I have not met a single person who is against redeveloping the Trackside parcel.

    I would like to hear from you and others in this group opposed for:
    1. What would you be willing to accept in Trackside scope and scale.

    We took a vote of neighbors after the submittal of the project to the City, and unanimously voted to oppose the Trackside proposed project, and that a two story development was acceptable at that site.  We voted again after Trackside Partners LLC gave a presentation to the neighborhood, and again unanimously voted to oppose the Trackside proposed project, and that a two story development was acceptable at that site.

    2. Do you support peripheral development?

    I cannot speak for the neighborhood on this, because this isn’t our issue.  Personally, I voted for Covell Village, support the now-defunct NW Business Park concept, and am a listed official supporter of the Nishi project.  There are also projects I oppose — I take each on its own merit.

    My guess is that neither you nor the other members of your small cadre of activists in opposition will come forward with what you would accept…

    Um . . . just did.

    because of the simple fact that you just oppose change.

    I have no idea what the F— you are even talking about, and I doubt anyone else in the neighborhood does either.  Where do you come up with this S—? We have supported all sorts of change. That’s what the Design Guidelines ARE, how change takes place, not opposition to change.

    Duh!

    1. Matt Williams

      Alan, when the zoning was changed in 2005 to M-U and it was moved out of the Old East Davis planning district into the Core Area planning district, in a public process that included the participation of the Old East Davis neighborhood, the height limit was set to 35 feet and the number of stories at 3 (or more within a FAR of no more than 2.0). Given that, why are you now saying two stories rather than three stories or 35 feet in height?

      1. hpierce

        Based on the ‘tone’ I thought I heard in Alan’s posts, I think the technical term is “druthers”.  Sounded like they ‘support‘ 2 stories, didn’t address whether they could accept 3.  Probably shouldn’t read too much in to 2 stories being the “dead line”.  Feel confident that Alan can clarify, IF he feels a need to do so, but at this point, there is no need.  Right now the only items on the menu are status quo, or project as proposed.

        Oh, Matt… 35 feet, with roof pitch, HVAC equipt., etc. is somewhat less than three stories. The FAR may not match, either.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for