Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Muddy's Hot Cup gets quieter

Posted By on Tue, Dec 4, 2007 at 1:26 PM

This official announcement (from Muddy's Hot Cup) came in Tuesday morning. Look for further details in the Hum this week. - Bob

December 4, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

No More Music at Muddy's -- Again?
Live entertainment at Muddy's Hot Cup of Northtown is cancelled until further notice. In a hearing with the department of Alcoholic Beverage Control on Monday, the City of Arcata took a hard-line stance against music at Muddy's. The City of Arcata has chosen to aggressively enforce a stipulation from the ABC stating that entertainment cannot be "audible" beyond the premises. This stipulation was placed on Muddy's Beer and Wine license based on the Arcata Police Department's experiences with the former business, Muddy Waters Coffee Company, which had a history of causing many complaints. The current management of Muddy's has formally requested that the stipulation be changed to hold the entertainment noise levels to the City of Arcata Noise Ordinance – the same standard that everyone else in Arcata is held to.

More of the press release and a letter from Arcata Chief of Police Randy Mendosa after the jump.

The hearing was called due to the complaints of one neighbor. Over 14 neighbors living on the same block as Muddy's have gone on the record saying they are not bothered by music at Muddy's. Because of the City's hard-line enforcement policy towards Muddy's the music is canceled until the stipulation can be formally reviewed.

"Muddy's is one of the last all-ages music venues in Arcata. Killing music at Muddy's would be a huge blow to the artistic community in our town," said Melody Walker, a local musician and the would-be new entertainment coordinator Muddy's Hot Cup. "The ABC condition of 'no audible entertainment' is completely unreasonable and impossible to comply with," she added. "The City taking a hard-line stance on this issue is effectively a ban on music at Muddy's."

"We want to follow the City of Arcata's noise guidelines just like every other business is asked to do," Says Muddy's proprietor Corey Stevens. "We don't want to be singled out and held to this absurd standard for reasons unrelated to the current business. I think the vast majority of Arcata citizens support music at Muddy's so I don't see why the City government is so against it. Unfortunately, I may be forced to lay off some of my employees. I think this is an example of an elected City government really not serving its constituents. If you would like to make your opinions known on this issue I would recommend contacting Arcata Police Department or the Arcata City Council."

Northtown residents are concerned about the termination of nighttime entertainment hours for more reasons than the loss of music. "Muddy's is a safe place for students to hang out." Says Northtown resident Kat Fountain, "If Muddy's is closed at night that will be one more stoop for transients to gather and harass passers by."

####


Bob writes: I spoke with several people about the music situation at Muddy's on Tuesday, including the neighbor who complained. Those at the city of Arcata asked me to contact Chief Randy Mendosa for official comment. I didn't hear from him until after press time. When he called he mentioned he'd been contacted a number of times following Corey's press release. The chief offered to forward a note he prepared for the City Council on the issue. It follows:

From: Randy Mendosa - Arcata P.D.
Subject: Muddy's
Date: December 4, 2007 5:08:16 PM PST

The Press Release from Corey Stevens, DBA Muddy’s Hot Cup, came as quite a surprise to me today. There was an ABC License hearing yesterday at the Courthouse before an Administrative Law Judge. The ABC was represented by their staff attorney. Some members of APD including myself were called as witnesses. Each officer testified as to what they observed and subsequently documented. I just checked with the ABC Office in Redding and was told it will take around a month before the judge will release his ruling.

This is not a police issue but rather a license issue between Corey Stevens and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The reason ABC filed the complaint is that a nearby resident (Nancy Tobin) came forward with a complaint about ongoing noise problems. To give you more background and a context of the situation, I will place in your council mailboxes, a copy of Nancy Tobin’s January 27, 2007 letter to me and the ABC.

Now here is the "rest of the story":

The business was originally approved by the City to be a coffee house. At some point after the coffee house operation was underway, the original owner decided to add alcohol sales. Since the business is in a converted house it is considered by the ABC to be in a residential area. The ABC license has a specific clause that prohibits noise from being heard from outside of the building. I believe this condition has been in place since the original ABC license was issued to the original owner.

Corey Stevens came to see me on December 15, 2005 when he was starting an escrow account to purchase the business. I made it extremely clear to Corey that my recommendation to ABC would be to continue the license condition that amplified music would not be allowed under the ABC license. The reason behind my recommendation was a proven fact that amplified music cannot be contained within that old house without disturbing neighbors.

During that December 2005 meting, Corey acknowledged a full understanding of the noise issues associated with the building. Corey said his plan was to change the business format to venues like puppet shows and Dell'Arte performances; and he was also interested in a wine bar option. He promised me that when he owned the business noise would not be an issue and music would not be heard outside of the building.

During the past year I have met with Corey on more than one occasion to discuss the on-going noise complaints. My intent was to act as a mediator, albeit unsuccessful, between Corey and Nancy Tobin. I never suggested that the noise condition on the ABC license be waived as I obviously have no authority in that matter.

The Press Release many of you received was sent by Corey Stevens. Neither the Arcata Police Department nor the ABC have directed him to cease doing business. To say that APD has suddenly taken on a hard-line stance to ban music is quite disingenuous indeed!

For further information, I would refer people to Robert Farrar, the supervisor of the Redding ABC Office.

####

Muddy's music maven Melody Walker offers rebuttals to the Chief's letter...

"This is not a police issue but rather a license issue between Corey Stevens and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control."

As far as I know, the ABC is required to consult with the APD and City Manager to determine appropriateness of a license. The best way I've heard it described is that a city's police department is the "eyes and ears" of the ABC. Naturally, with what we know about small town police, their vision is not always 20/20; a blind eye may be turned towards some businesses while others may be watched like hawks. The ABC is an organization with no accountability while the city and the APD we CAN hopefully sway towards a stance that more reflects the sentiments of their constituents.

"Since the business is in a converted house it is considered by the ABC to be in a residential area."

But it is considered by the police and the city to be a commercially zoned business. The APD could do a service and point that out to the ABC.

"The reason behind my recommendation was a proven fact that amplified music cannot be contained within that old house without disturbing neighbors."

Correction: without disturbing NEIGHBOR.

"During that December 2005 meting, Corey acknowledged a full understanding of the noise issues associated with the building. Corey said his plan was to change the business format to venues like puppet shows and Del Arte performances; and he was also interested in a wine bar option. He promised me that when he owned the business noise would not be an issue and music would not be heard outside of the building."

Starting a new small business is not a good time to be standing up to the man over technicalities. Does Corey wish he had tried to get condition-free license off the bat? I'm sure he does. But it's doubtful that it would have helped his fledgling business.

During the past year I have met with Corey on more than one occasion to discuss the on-going noise complaints.  My intent was to act as a mediator, albeit unsuccessful, between Corey and Nancy Tobin.  I never suggested that the noise condition on the ABC license be waived as I obviously have no authority in that matter.

Authority? maybe not, but input? Certainly.

"The Press Release many of you received was sent by Corey Stevens.  Neither the Arcata Police Department nor the ABC have directed him to cease doing business.  To say that APD has suddenly taken on a hard-line stance to ban music is quite disingenuous indeed!"

The APD and ABC have ALWAYS directed Muddy's to stay silent. "Shut up and drink your beer" has been their attitude. Muddy's doesn't NEED a wine and beer license to stay in business, so, depending on the court decision, Muddy's may decide to drop the license altogether and just be a Music and Coffee venue. What's sad is that no other business in town is being asked to do the same thing. The ABC and APD have colluded to give Muddy's an ultimatum: Beer or Music.

While Corey could play their game and pick one or the other, that would validate an inherently flawed question. Though at the moment there is Beer and no music, this is because we are waiting on the judges decision and recommendation to the ABC. We can't really do anything for the time being except sit and be good...but that doesn't mean we can't still talk about it. In 30 days we should know more about what is going to happen, but we could use the community support in the meantime to help us get this stipulation removed from the license. The APD can recommend that Muddy's is responsible enough to have live music under the city's noise guidelines.

What's disingenuous is suggesting that the APD plays NO part in ABC regulation and enforcement.

It's a sticky situation, but someone has to stick up for music in this town. There is no reason for Music to be effectively regulated by the ABC. And there is no reason for the APD and one neighbor to exacerbate  the problem by using the ABC to push their own agendas on Northtown.

- Melody

  • Pin It
  • StumbleUpon
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: ,

Speaking of Business, Arts

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

About The Author

Bob Doran

Bob Doran

Bio:
Contributing photographer.

more from the author

Latest in Blogthing

© 2014 The North Coast Journal Weekly

Website powered by Foundation

humboldt