OFFICIALS CLAMP DOWN ON BARRERA
Friday afternoon I received a call from friends telling me that there was a "significant" official presence at the location of Roland Barrera
's new night club, Maison, at 719 West 19th Street. You may recall that this venue was the subject of a complaint by neighboring resident Steven Chan
at the city council meeting last Tuesday, when he told the council that this site was being renovated into a LiveNation entertainment venue.
RESIDENT COMPLAINT LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION
Chan's comments and subsequent conversations with city officials generated a beehive of activity at City Hall this week, which culminated in the visits to the site today. According to reports from readers, Barrera was selling tickets to shows at the sight tonight, Friday, and Saturday even though construction was still underway.
(Code Enforcement Officer Apolinar Ramos, Khanh Nguyen and Brad Zint)
OFFICIALS ON SITE AND UNHAPPY
So, I grabbed my trusty camera and drove across town to find Costa Mesa's Building Official, Khanh Nguyen,
Code Enforcement Officer Apolinar Ramos
and representatives from the Costa Mesa Fire Department on site, inspecting the place. They were not happy. Several residents and Daily Pilot Ace Reporter, Bradley Zint
, were also there. The official presence was later augmented by the arrival of Fire Battalion Chief Kevin Diamond,
Hazardous Materials Specialist Michelle Rudaitis
and Fire Chief Dan Stefano
. New Planning Commissioner Stephan Andranian
also showed up later and toured the facility.
(Rudaitis and Diamond with unhappy resident)
MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC UNHAPPY, TOO
Members of the community heard about this situation and stopped to tell officials how they felt about it, and to express concern about the frequency of this kind of situation on the Westside.
THE CULMINATION OF ACTIVITY
After spending a couple hours on the site Friday afternoon investigating the venue - which had been preceded earlier in the week with conversations with Barrera in which he was directed to retain the services of an architect, and directing Barrera to make specific changes - Nguyen found the venue was nowhere close to being ready for occupancy earlier in the afternoon.
ARROGANT DISREGARD FOR THE RULES
It turns out that Barrera had completely ignored the rules. He had neither sought nor received ANY
permits of any kind for this operation, including business license, use permit and more than a half dozen building permits for things like plumbing and electrical work being done.
GIVING HIM THE WORD
At 5:00 p.m. Khanh and Stefano finally gave the word to Barrera that, despite all the changes they were making, the building would be Red Tagged, and any occupancy except for workers required to correct deficiencies would be prohibited.
(Andranian, Stefano, Nguyen, Rudaitis, Barrera and Architect)
As Khanh affixed the Red Tag to the wall adjacent to the new entry door being hurriedly installed by workers, members of the band scheduled to play that night arrived to begin their set up.
FINES TO BE ASSESSED NEXT WEEK
It is my understanding that Barrera will be prohibited from any use except the aforementioned construction until next Thursday, when a subsequent inspection will be made. As mentioned before, he was required to retain the services of an architect to assure the necessary changes were proper and met code. In addition, Barrera will be assessed fines next week for his failure to acquire the necessary permits.
Many of the residents who attended this event expressed concern for the arrogant disregard for the rules in this case. Mention was made about public safety and references were made to tragic nightclub fires around the country in similar circumstances. Based on comments from city staff, the fines that will be levied next week - likely less than $2,000 - really don't seem to be a sufficient disincentive for the gravity of the offense and the flouting of the law. Barrera has a well-documented history of problems with the legal system. That's a discussion for another time.
NO SIGN OF ACTIVITY TONIGHT
Later tonight I drove back to the site to see what, if anything, was happening. The only pedestrian traffic in the parking lot seemed to be coming from the laundromat two doors down. The temporarily-constructed new door was closed and, on another nearby door there was a notice of the cancellation of the performance.
THE PLACE IS A MESS!
This site is really in disrepair. There was no evidence of ANY
kind of cosmetic maintenance on the exterior of the building. Graffiti was evident on two sides of the building and the planter area in the front was a shambles. It is unclear whether Barrera will be required to make improvements on the exterior in addition to the safety measures on the interior.
KUDOS TO CHAN AND OTHERS
So, we learned this week that alert residents willing to speak up can be an effective force within the community. Thanks to Steven Chan and his vocal neighbors and others who continued to push this item with city officials to be sure the safety of the public was considered and the rules followed. Kudos to all.
Labels: Dan Stefano, Graffiti, Kevin Diamond, Khanh Nguyen, Maison West, Michelle Rudaitis, Roland Barrera, Steven Chan