At a West Hollywood Business License Commission public hearing on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, Heart WeHo Nightclub’s application for an Extended Hour Business License to operate until 4:00 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays was denied in a split three in favor/three against vote. The nightclub partly owned by singer Lance Bass, did not request to serve alcohol past 2am.
Commissioner Catherine Eng breaks down what happened last night via her social media platforms. She granted WEHO TIMES permission to share her thoughts with our readers.
At last night’s Biz License Commission meeting there was an item to allow a local nightclub to extend its hours of operation to 4 AM. Last Year, Council had proposed allowing all clubs to stay open until 4 and to allow the sales of alcohol during these hours; which the State of CA would not allow.
The decision was a draw–3 commissioners in favor, 3 denied–and the club will have to reapply. The Commission asked for certain stats before it can proceed, including what number of police required activities happens after 2 AM/regular closing hours.
This is the 2nd time a city recommendation was not followed by the BLC during my 6 month tenure.
Initially, when I read the staff report, it seemed logical to approve. The club was already open till 4 AM on many occasions (through special events permits) and alcohol was not being served. The applicant stated they were trying to help eliminate the crush of people leaving clubs @ 2am and pouring onto the streets. The Club also said they wanted to allow people the opportunity to stay and sober up a bit.
After some investigation, I felt the opposite. One glaring situation that was brought up was that the club does not offer free water to its patrons. This would be unsafe, and frankly, inhumane. Another factor was the initial batch of public comments, which was overwhelmingly opposed. And the public sentiment was important.
In the afternoon, another batch of public comments came thru and this time, mixed. Approx ⅓ were in favor of allowing after hours stating that 4am closures in big city entertainment districts aren’t uncommon. People mentioned wanting an option for nightlife after 2am. A few residents said the sound was not an issue.
And I noticed that many of the opposition comments were a form letter and contained a comment that was not relevant. The comment stated was ‘with fewer sheriffs, this is a bad idea’. That statement caught my attention because I know there has been misinformation about Council’s decision to move some funds with 2 fewer sheriffs to allow for 30 more Block by Block/security ambassadors.
During the meeting I asked specifically if the elimination of the 2 officers has any effect here. I was told by Director of Community Safety Danny Rivas that it did not; the entertainment patrol for the city remains intact.
When asked, the Club Owner stated it was untrue that they do not refuse free water to patrons. Several times they mentioned having a state of the art sound system that helps mitigate sound waves. The owner commented that the sheriffs and their staff were in favor of a later closure- also due to the prevention of having a mass 2 AM exodus into the streets, after club closure.
After the presentation, I voted yes. Chair Anthony Vulin and Commissioner Rob Saltzman were in agreement. And Saltzman echoed the sentiment that I felt: he was prepared to vote no and after hearing the presentation, changed his mind.
Commissioners Danny Hang, Mark Yusopov and Robert Lo dissented. Yusopov and Hang made a motion to rehear the request after additional facts were gathered- such as cost to the city and stats on crime happening after hours.
Last night’s results reminded me of the significance of commission work to sort thru and interpret the City’s official/staff findings.