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Publication Date: Friday, October 04, 2002
Spotlight on LimeLight
Spotlight on LimeLight
(October 04, 2002) Concerns about club to be aired at city hearing
By Samay Gheewala
In is two years of existence, Club LimeLight has proven to be a part of the "vibrant downtown nightlife" envisioned by city planners at the start of the Downtown Revitalization project, holding 600 people and providing a place for the under-21 crowd to hang out.
But since new ownership took over in February, nearby residents and retailers have reported problems with obnoxious downtown revelers, many of whom, they say, are going to or coming from the LimeLight, including a brutal beating -- allegedly gang-related -- two weeks ago.
Now area residents and business owners are hoping to make their concerns heard, when the LimeLight's conditional use permit, originally issued for the defunct Lone Star dance hall, goes before the city for review Oct. 9 .
Tom Macagno, who lives on Bryant Street behind the LimeLight, has registered numerous complaints with both the owners of the club and the city, but he says the problems are just getting worse. "I've seen it go through lots of owners, but only with the current owners have the problems not been taken care of."
Macagno recently began filming LimeLight patrons urinating in his yard and along the street, vomiting, drinking in their cars, and discarding cans and bottles both in his yard and along the street, along with what he says are unacceptable noise levels from the club.
"I'll go over and talk to the security there, and they'll turn down the volume, but two hours later, it's back up," he said. Macagno says the sound levels alone wouldn't be an issue, but they add to the other problems. "It really becomes unbearable," he said.
LimeLight representatives did not respond to requests for an interview.
Like other nearby tenants interviewed by the Voice, Macagno had no opposition to the presence of a nightclub such as the LimeLight downtown, but objected to the behavior of the crowds, and current ownership's alleged lack of responsibility for the behavior of LimeLight patrons. He criticized the current city plan, calling it too vague. "All it says is that they want a busy downtown where people are spending money, but by that criteria, a crackhouse could be considered vibrant."
One of his major complaints was with people, whom he says are under 21, drinking in their cars and discarding the bottles "all over the place" before going to the club.
Due to repeated complaints, Mountain View police have stepped up patrols around the LimeLight, especially around 2 a.m., as up to 600 people exit the club at once.
Nearby businesses also have had issues with the large numbers of people attracted to the LimeLight, and their sometimes rowdy behavior. "People leave their trash in front of my store, and they urinate on my door, even while I'm still inside" said one business owner who asked not to be named. Other business owners report similar incidents, with LimeLight patrons disturbing customers by banging on their windows, fighting on the sidewalk, and waiting in huge lines to get inside.
City Attorney Michael Martello, who has worked with police and club ownership to deal with some of the problems, said that the sheer number of clients at the LimeLight could be the major factor in solving the problems. "They could have 1,000 people in there if they could handle it, but if they can't then we're going to have to go in and restrict them to 200 if necessary."
Martello also noted that the city had had similar problems when Molly Magee's, across the street from the LimeLight, opened, but that the city and bar ownership had worked to almost completely eliminate those problems.
"Taking control of the problem will depend on the LimeLight owners taking responsibility," said City Council member Matt Pear. "I'd hate to see their permit reduced, but that could be a possibility if things don't improve."
Pear said it was up to club owners to work with the city to reduce the problems, citing his experience with reducing gang activity at Klein Park, where resident involvement and increased police patrols made a difference.
"I'm very concerned about the issues there, and I've spoken with (the past ownership) in the past about these issues," said Council member Rosemary Stasek, adding that she wants to be sure that issues of rowdiness are kept under control.
Both Stasek and Pear said they have reservations about restricting downtown nightlife.
"We have worked very hard to redevelop downtown, and to make it a lively, vibrant place, and I am not interested in having downtown going back to being so quiet you could lie down and go to sleep in the middle of Castro Street without being disturbed," she said. Stasek praised the club for providing a place for teenagers and the under-21 crowd. "I'm confident our police department will be making sure that club owners do their best to keep these problems in check," she added.
"I think it's a great thing to have downtown, and I'm sure that it's a few bad apples causing all the problems. Most of the people I see there look like they're there to have a good time," said Pear. "I'd hate to see police resources wasted on what looks like a lot of immaturity."
Possible solutions to the problem include a reduction of the number of people allowed into the club, or by having club security work with police to patrol the parking lots.
Both Macagno and Pear said the situation would only worsen when two new condominium developments on Bryant Street (one on the corner of Dana Street, the other on the corner of Villa Street) open near the club in coming months. "The condos will open more eyes and ears to the problems there, and the problems will get resolved quickly. How that gets done is up to the club owners," said Pear.
"Tom's put up with a lot. You just get tired of it," Pear said, referring to Macagno. But Macagno remains optimistic. "I just want them to be a good neighbor," he said.
E-mail Samay Gheewala at email@example.com