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Concerns voiced after last weekend’s club violence

By Eric Kurhi
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 at 11:36 am in Business, Crime, Entertainment, Hayward.

There were three nightclub related incidents last weekend: a shooting at a Mission Boulevard karaoke joint, shots fired and fights in the downtown area. There have been a couple other incidents on B Street in the past month, including a Pizza House employee being punched in the face and shots fired in the alley next to the building.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Mike Sweeney asked the city manager to prepare a report on what’s going on. Fran David said she’s already talked with police as well as nightclub owners and will have that report for them by the end of the week, I’ll watch for it.

“We got some nightclubs really getting out of control,” said Doug Ligibel of the Downtown Watch neighborhood group during public comments. “When that happens, neighborhoods are left without police response” because officers are otherwise tied up.

I got a call from Ben Young of the Bijou restaurant after my story ran on Tuesday. He said that while the police did show up at his venue, it was a pretty minor skirmish that started when two women had an altercation and had to be escorted out.

“Many times we’ll be called to a large fight, get there and find out it wasn’t,” said police Lt. Roger Keener. “It may look like a lot of people are involved, when most are just watching, or maybe (the caller) just wants us to get there fast.”

Young said he doesn’t want to be considered a detriment to the area. He said they enforce a dress code and have security watch the neighboring parking lot and area around the club. “We make a strong effort to keep out trouble,” he said, adding that they had a meeting with police set up for last night. “It’s a big concern of ours. We want to operate without any problems.”

Me Restaurant and Lounge management have told me that they also strictly enforce a dress code and abide by all the security requirements mandated by the permit that the city granted in late 2009, including a police-approved operating plan and an agreement that they keep an eye on neighboring Newman Park.

Last weekend’s incident happened in the parking lot behind the club after an event promoted by a radio station. That’s something that police Lt. Roger Keener said brings people from out of the area, which can be problematic.

This all kind of dovetails with a question that was brought up by the city manager at a council meeting earlier this year: What is the vision for downtown Hayward? Should it be an entertainment district, with nightlife and alcohol? Or should it be something else, perhaps more retail-oriented? City officials have differed in opinion — the planning commission was divided equally on approving Me’s permit, and while a majority of the council was excited about the life that such a venue could bring to the downtown area, some gave stern warnings about pulling that permit should it become a trouble spot.

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  • qodrn

    I apologize. Indeed, I was wrong. What gave me the idea? Somehow, I thought I saw some Hayward articles written by someone else (and not the weekend guys).

    I truly thought after all the shootings and robberies you have been covering lately, you might have taken some time off.

    I don’t always read to the paper in order of receipt. I could also blame my massive fungal infection, but I don’t think that was it. I think you are a great reporter, especially under the current circumstances. I do disagree with you about the Italian restaurant on B St, however. Happy Sunday.

  • Michael Moore

    It is a shame that the City Council did not request and publish the HPD stats on calls in the downtown area. Are there in fact more incidents? Is there more apparent problems or less and we are merely reacting emotionally?

    This information should be available and accessible. When looking at the HPD website and the Heart of the Bay I do not see stats on either calls or arrests by area in the city over any sort of time.

    I know that this information is collected.

  • Jackie Mc

    I think B Street was envisioned and designed as a mix of entertainment and retail venues. I certainly would like to see it become fully energized!

    It seems to me that the police cannot adequately cover the area at all times. Private security hired by nightclub venues is a wonderful idea!

    I wonder if the other merchants might band together and hire some type of “roving security force.” With the economy so bad, it seems to me that many people would welcome these jobs, even if minimum wage! After all–the plethora of Statues of Liberty and sign wavers certainly indicates so!

    MORE PEOPLE on B Street (shoppers, restaurant/theatre/nightclubbers) might help people feel safer. What’s up with all the vacant store fronts?

    Off topic, but I always wonder why the theatre was located around the corner???? And why there is NO MARQUEE on Foothill? So much traffic passes by every day–marquees entice people! Oddly enough, the theatre itself doesn’t even have a marquee you can read from the street–B Street I mean! (Well, at least I can’t!)

    No cost parking means just that. Those garages freak me out during the DAY and TOTALLY freak me out at night! Couldn’t they be designed for low cost parking with validation–maybe then there could be some minimal security there. More folks might feel comfortable going down to B Street for a meal, a movie, to hear music, to buy a book….

    My two cents. I have been thinking a great deal about this. I love Hayward and I love B Street. I would love to see things work the way they should!