Friday, March 20, 2015

Barrera's Maison Red Tagged By City

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.

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)
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 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.
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.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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Blogger Joe said...

Good job by city officials! Needed next: A thorough investigation of all transactions with Barrera concerning the 60th Celebration. What is his true connection to OCGOP and its minions in Costa Mesa?

3/20/2015 11:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Roland Barrera and Mensy should run as a ticket for council in 2016! The rigbots will all embrace a fellow rule-ignorer. Their motto: "We'll do whatever we please."

3/21/2015 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

They need to check out Casa down the street and see if any permits were pulled there too. That bar was Avalon , which Roland Barrera took over right after the 60th. For weeks they were storing very expensive outdoor stage equipment behind it. Looked like the VIP section from the 60th party. I bet he didn't pull permits when he remodeled that one either.

3/21/2015 07:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Joe, I agree. There is something up here. He's involved in way too much in this city that isn't on the up and up. This is his second dump establishment, isn't it? Does that one have permits? Or is that where all the sound equipment went? Why is it that the city seems to be giving this guy a pass?

3/21/2015 07:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Casual Viewer said...

Would action have been as swift if Mr. Chan had called the city instead of making his case in public at the council meeting? I am dubious.

3/21/2015 08:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Teresa Drain said...

WOW! I wonder where this guy got the idea that the rules don't apply to him?

Great scoop, Geoff. Great follow up by the city officials on Mr. Chan's request!

3/21/2015 09:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

Could this be where the sound equipment the city (we) bought for Barrera for the 60th anniversary money pit is or will end up? He has major monetary and business ties to the RIGmeister and this brazen attempt by Barrera to open this venue without any permits of any kind proves his arrogance in having to follow any laws and rules (just like his close buddy the RIGmeister). I suspect "some" city officials have been well aware of what Barrera has been up to, with a wink and a nod and expectations of more campaign contributions in the future from their friend Barrera.

3/21/2015 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Honeyman said...

Very good job done by Mr. Chan, Geoff, and all involved. can still by tickets to tonights "show" on the maison website.

3/21/2015 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Where's My Coffee? said...

Either Barrera is in cahoots with Rig on something, or he has something on him. Our council, or at least the city should have known a new business was opening because we all did. Did no one check? Were they told not to bother? Why would Barrera be given a pass and a nod? He must know something that will keep him safe.

3/21/2015 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Steven a Chan said...

Make an account. Thru are on imstagram. Report this account. tap your fingers. Fight back. Boycott build boycott shut them down now

3/21/2015 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Steven a Chan said...

> c) I call on EVERY citizen in this town to let the planning commissioners of the city of Costa Mesa know they should simply receive and file every single application from the party. A clear and simple signal like this is law and order of the type necessary for this high level crime. A pattern of behavior has been established, these do not need to be perpetuated. The time of the commission, city staff, and of the public, on this topic, is wasted. We do not need a CUP hearing from this potential applicant. Let your planning commissioner know to receive and file!

3/21/2015 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Ocpublicsquare said...

Re: joint on 19th street. I was suspicious long ago. Finally got fire dept to check it out and was told it met code requirements. The joint may be advertising for adult burlesque entertainment. I was thinking of going in there undercover but decided not good idea. Trying to confirm rumors of adult entertainment. Taxpayers literally wrote RB checks for thousands of dollars to pre pay 60th bands and purchase or rent sound equipment and outdoor seating for vip area. Where does he get his power to just flip us the bird on all the rules, plan checks, fire inspections? He ignored stop work order earlier in week. Brazen. Arrogant and not wanted in Costa Mesa thank you.

3/21/2015 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

Thank you, Geoff for covering this story.
We need to see this story published in the Daily Pilot.

Thank you, Mr. Chan for speaking up at our CM CC meeting where his concerns are on the public record.
Thank you, city officials for shutting down this illegal venue .

Roland Barrera has too much power over Righeimer( and Mensinger?).
Isn't he being investigated for running a Ponzi scheme? Why is such a crook given free rein in our city?
Costa Mesans, WAKE UP!
Take our city back from the control of crooks, liars and thieves!

3/21/2015 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

What's the picture just after "hail Satan" and "white power"? I can't tell what's in it--

3/21/2015 01:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

And I was under the impression that Barrera had fled to Mexico to avoid confinement or something like that -- Yeah, Teresa, we really REALLY do need a forensic audit on the 60th bash. Keep pluggin' for it. Maybe I will, too.

3/21/2015 01:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Disgusted Republican said...

It appears, from reviews of Maison West on Yelp, it has already been open for business for awhile. Time to check on permits, or lack there of, for Barrera's other spot on W 19th. Any bets?!?!

3/21/2015 01:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

Isn't this the point where Barrera get a fat city job to shut him up?

3/21/2015 07:36:00 PM  

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