High price of late-night permits prevents Oakland clubs from extending hours

on April 15, 2011

Since last July, Oakland clubs have been able to apply for permits to extend their hours from 2 am to 4 am. However, only three such permits have been issued, said city councilmember Nancy Nadel during a crime prevention meeting of the Jack London District Association last night.

“It’s a rather expensive permit and we didn’t have a lot of takers,” said Nadel, who identified Club 21, Bench and Bar and Karibbean City as the only three clubs that obtained the $5,000 permit.

The 18-month pilot program is a part of the city’s effort to reform its cabaret laws, which also benefit a newly created class of “small cabarets”—usually coffee shops and restaurants that host live music or film screenings. Under the previous ordinance those venues had to go through the same complicated and costly permitting process as larger nightclubs that have dancing floors and hold bigger parties.

The hour-extension permit doesn’t allow alcohol to be served after 2 am. But clubs can keep their doors open and continue to serve refreshments. Nadel said it allows people to leave on a more staggered basis, which may help reduce the noise when partygoers exit the clubs en mass. The permit also gives an opportunity for people to “sober up before they leave,” Nadel said.

“There’s a difference between what the law says and what people do,” said Gary Knecht, a board member of Jack London District Association. Knecht is worried that people would continue drinking during the after hours and thus make the permit meaningless.

“I certainly don’t go there myself,” Nadel laughed when asked whether there are city staff observing what’s going on in those clubs after 2 am. But Nadel said she had not heard of any problems with those three clubs so far and the city will “evaluate first and perhaps extend” the program in the future.

Three police officers at the meeting who patroled the downtown area after midnight said they hadn’t received any significant reports near those bars in the past few months.

“After 2 o’clock the alcohol sale is over, your revenue doesn’t really make much of it, ” said Alex Loera, the general manager of both Club 21 and Bench and Bar in an interview. “We did it for the convenience for our customers,” he said, adding that instead of going to San Francisco for longer hours, many of their customers will stay in Oakland.

3 Comments

  1. Jaded on April 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Hopefully more places will be able to open late, this puts us 1 step closer to having a few 24 hour neighborhoods.



  2. hans on April 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Weren’t there repeated disorders at these clubs that became riots after closing time in the past? The patrons repeatedly got into fights at closing time causing OPD to leaving their beats unprotected to restore order at the Oakland Clubs. Perhaps the fees are an attempt to hold the Oakland Clubs responsible for their customers actions.



  3. F.W. Lee on April 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Interesting that two of the clubs cater to the gay community and one to the carribean community (just an interesting thought). While keeping clubs open later is a perceived good move, club owners and event promoters will tell they do not make any real money due to the alcohol restriction. However, the city really needs to crack down on the (empty and broken) alcoholic bottles and flyers (close to soft porn advertisement) littered in the proximity of these clubs, along with some behavior reserved for the bedroom. All of these clubs are located near schools or gyms and you can count the number bottles and flyers on the sidewalks, streets and other business entrances. When there were others venues such as @17th Club (prior to the new Bench and Bar) and Sweet Jimmie’s with similar issues, the city and certain residents were complaining left and right. Why not hold these venues to the same standard?



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