Lose Candlelight, Lose Revenue

This week, the Simi Valley Planning Commission showed Candlelight Nightclub no love according to the Simi Valley Acorn on Friday.  The Planning Commission voted to send the matter back to the City Council, but only after a 3 hour session including comments from approximately 30 area residents and remarks from the commissioners.

“When you have a CUP, and you have residents that are going to be impacted by it saying ‘no,’ it’s very hard to go against their wishes,” Commissioner Keith Mashburn said. “Your nightclub operation, from what I’ve seen, is not compatible with a residential area.”

No doubt, nobody wants to tell pissed off residents that they need to stand by and wait for the owners of this nightclub to make a good faith effort to resolve the issues.  Who would want to?  They’re pissed off!  But this place earns money for the city AND (and read this, because this is the most important part) the owner’s genuinely WANT to resolve the issues completely and be good neighbors!  Not sure you believe me?  Read on…

The Gerson family continues to earn a decent living on various business ventures, including similar nightclubs and other entertainment/event venues such as Calamigos Ranch in Malibu.  Frankly, closing shop in Simi Valley won’t destroy their bottom line.  They’re here because they like it here and they want to be here.

I’ll bet if you asked them for a tour of the facility and a demonstration of efforts to reduce noise, they’d show you every renovation and the invoices that reflect the cost.  I once watched them get a harsh scolding by our Mayor in a City Council meeting and then eavesdropped on their conversation with a disgruntled neighbor resulting in their unconditional agreement to pay cash for damages related to hit and run vandalism.  Mind you, this was done with no proof or evidence that the vandal was a patron of the club, this was just an assumption.  Further, I rudely listened in while the father and son owners discussed in the City Hall parking lot what they could do to power-up their efforts and make good with the residents.  In my mind, these guys are 100% genuine in their efforts to do good business that works for this city.

Nevertheless, Commissioner Tim Shannon said he believed Glen Gerson, developer and operator of The Vineyards/Candlelight, when he said the current problems can be resolved.

“I believe you can get these issues rectified, if you’re motivated, in short order. And I don’t think there is any neighbor that, if you truly rectify the issues, will stand in your way,” Shannon said. “We need business in Simi Valley, but we don’t need any business at the expense of our residents and that’s the issue that I think needs to be resolved.”

I think everyone believes that last statement, including the owners of Candlelight.  I think if you take a proactive effort to find out what the Candlelight owners are doing to resolve this problem, you’ll fully believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.  Take Chris Kim, for example, who is the former manager of the Dakota’s restaurant that previously operated at the exact same location:

“I think that Candlelight’s making the effort and it should be acknowledged that they are making the effort to meet the requirements of the city and the neighbors,” Kim said.

The most fascinating element of this story is knowing that based on current city guidelines, Candlelight is already operating within the required limits in regards to noise and amplified music.  The efforts they are taking right now go way above and beyond and are a blatant showing of the Gersons’ good faith efforts to fit in.  Really, all they need is time, a lot to ask of impatient, frustrated neighbors.

So with this issue once again facing City Council, the big question is will they do what’s right for Simi Valley business and the general fund?  Will they inform citizens of the effort being made and ecourage them to wait and see while promoting Shop Simi First, or will they answer the angst of pissed off neighbors and ensure their votes for the next election cycle?  This is politics, after all.

Read the Acorn article here…

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Comments

  1. Brian says:

    Mike,

    A major problem is that customers park in residential neighborhoods. Would you support a fix to this problem by not allowing customers to park in the neighborhoods? It would be easy to have a guard at the end of the driveway stopping people from walking in, unless they parked in the parking lot on the property or the parking lot they rent from Simi Valley High School.

    Why expand the business until this really easy solution is implemented?

    Sure, the business pays taxes and employs people, and in this economy that is very helpful. But the people currently providing parking in front of their homes and having to pick up bottles, repair their property, and deal with people hanging out in their front yards pay property taxes too.

    Will you sign on and ask council members and the business for this easy fix?

  2. Thanks for keeping this story alive. It’s nice to also see The Acorn and The Star are also keeping this story in the public eye.

    We had a lot of trouble with them at first when trying to get video surveillance of their patrons the night of the hit and run on our car. From what I understand this happened due to bad legal advice and poor communication between the executive team. Once everyone was on the same page Glen Gerson apologized for the accident that was with almost 99% certainty caused by one of his patrons, closed off traffic from his club into our neighborhood, and also paid for the damages to our car. We were impressed by this swift action and got the impression they actually care what the community thinks about them.

    Make no mistake though that they are making a lot of money from the club, and that they have invested a ton of money that would be lost if they were forced to shutdown or couldn’t expand. There are numerous problems that still exist due to the nightclub being in Simi Valley. The most dangerous of these problems is that about 20% of the DUIs are from Candlelight patrons. Each one of those drunk drivers is a deadly weapon on our streets. The noise is also an issue for the houses and apartments right near the restaurant. I’m confident that Glen and his son will solve these problems, but we can’t let them off the hook until these problems are solved. There are fewer and fewer businesses out there that actually care about their customers let alone the community so it’s nice to see that Candlelight is one. Let’s hope that they figure out a solution that allows them to keep making money and employing Simi Valley citizens, but one that also satisfies their neighbors.

  3. Yes, they generate tax dollars for the city, and the residents pay their taxes too. No one, including the owners, debates or argues against the residents’ right to peace. My concern has been that the outrage expressed by the citizens is prompting the city to rush to judgment and I think simple things can be applied to help fix these issues.

    So yes Brian, I think your idea is a good one and I would be delighted to see them implement it.

    And Brad, its true they’ve invested a lot of money that would be lost if they were required to shut down. That would be a fact for any business. But they’ve said on record on more than one occasion that they’d shut down and move out if the city determined they couldn’t be good neighbors. If they’re not wanted, they’ll leave. My hope is that we give them enough time and have some patience while they work to satisfy these concerns. I’m worried the neighbors want them out now and the people in charge of making the decision are hot to get them out. I hope I’m wrong.

  4. Raymond P says:

    I couldnt disagree more about that nightclub. It doesn’t belong here and like Brad said they produce the most drunk drivers. If the neighbors don’t want it here then what reason would there be to keep it around?? A business should have this in order before they open and shouldn’t have to “be patient” while they fix it. Shut it down.