Patrons will be able to enjoy a glass of wine or beer when Aces Comedy Club opens soon in Murrieta.
Before that could happen, Aces co-owners Rocky Osborn and Kim May needed to get city approval to sell beer and wine at the
Murrieta planning commissioners heard arguments for and against the license Wednesday from members of the public, city planner Aaron Rintamaki and co-owner Osborn.
Two residents who live in the neighborhood behind Murrieta Home Center where the club is under construction said it would bring unwanted alcohol-related activity.
There is already enough of that type of activity, said resident Milo Jensen, as he held up plastic baggies full of empty beer cans he'd found on Avenida Acacias, which runs behind the commercial center.
"I believe granting a liquor license for this location is not a public convenience but a public nuisance," Jensen said.
"We already have a drinking problem in this neighborhood. I collected these just yesterday," he said, holding up the empty cans.
Jensen said someone is his family lost their life because of a drunk driver.
"The city it seems in their excitement is more excited about the tax revenue in filling empty business places," Jensen said. "How many more alcohol licenses are you going to sit here and approve in this area?"
While the comedy club in itself fits an approved use for the commerical center, the city needed the OK from the Planning Commission to grant a conditional use permit for beer and wine sales. Under guidelines from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), the maximum alcohol licenses for the census tract has already been reached. Therefore, the project needed to be deemed a public necessity or convenience.
After more than an hour of discussion, Planning Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the permit for the club.
"I definitely think there is a public convenience in this case," said Vice Chair Jeff Kirshberg. "It is something new and a type of entertainment this city needs..there is a sound wall and street (between the club and the neighborhood)."
Kirshberg did say the traffic entrance and exit from the project was not ideal.
City Planner Cynthia Kinser said the driveway that runs from the center past In-N-Out and Shell is privately owned, and that the city is aware of its inefficiencies.
"The condition exists," Kinser said. "It is one we inherited and it is a challenge."
Osborn, who was available for questions during the public hearing, told reporters afterward that he hoped to open the club by mid-March.
To commissioners, he presented a petition signed by 55 residents who supported the club. He urged them not to be concerned about patrons "getting drunk."
The club will be open Thursday through Sunday nights, with one 90-minute show on Thursdays and Sundays, and two shows on Friday and Saturday nights. Guests would be ushered out of the club by staff as each show ends he said, and the bar is service-only—not somewhere to linger.
"We'll have one server for every 50 people, so the chances of getting more than two drinks (during a show) will be very slim."
Alcohol License Approved For 7-Eleven
During the same meeting, a public hearing was held regarding a beer and wine license for
Associate City Planner Paul Swancott said he received one email opposing the conditional use permit and an 890-signature petition in favor of it.
Similar to the comedy club, the census tract in which the 7-Eleven falls has already reached its maximum alcohol licenses. There are presently six businesses within 4,000 feet of the location that sell alcohol for off-site consumption.
Three residents who opposed the license spoke during the hearing.
One resident, Edgar Rodrigues, said he believed excessive availability results in excessive problems.
"...When have we reached the limit...what is the standard?" Rodrigues said. "How many licenses over in the tract (do we go)? I am asking the commissioners of Murrieta to use prudence."
Commissioners quizzed Murrieta police Lt. Julie Hoxmeier about police responses to the location within the past year.
Hoxmeier said police were called to the 7-Eleven location 43 times: once for public intoxication and once for DUI. In comparison, she said police responded to the nearby Shell station 71 times: once for public intoxication and three times for DUIs.
The vote for the license for 7-Eleven was not unanimous. Commissioners voted narrowly, 3-2, with Commissioner Anthony Casadonte and Chairman Gregory Goodman opposing.
"It is heartening to see members of the community come to these (hearings) and express their concerns and comments...," Goodman said. "We don’t do these up here in a vacuum...it is important to have transparency..."
According to Kinser, an appeal of either of the Planning Commission's decisions made Wednesday would need to be filed with the Murrieta City Council within 10 days.