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.