Business permits are upheld

PERMITS for a nightclub and banquet facility were upheld at Wednesday’s meeting of the Westminster City Council.

After over three hours of argument, discussion and procedural gymnastics, the Westminster City Council on Wednesday night let stand an earlier decision by the planning commission to grant permits for the operation of a proposed nightclub/banquet facility at 14190 Beach Boulevard.

Councilmember Tai Do had appealed the planners’ action, arguing – among other reasons for his objections – that the application for the “Type 48” liquor license was inconsistent with the declarations of the applicant, David Vo, for a “family-oriented business.” He also said that the concept of “shared parking” with other businesses in the commercial center in the 14000 block of Beach would create overcrowding and traffic issues. Also, he referred to statistics showing the crime count in the area to be 32 percent above the city average.

Speaking for the applicant was Lan Quoc Nguyen, an attorney who is also a member of the Garden Grove Unified School District Board of Education. He questioned Do’s interpretation of the Alcohol Beverage Control rules that state that the holder of a Type 48 license to sell and serve beer, wine and distilled spirits may not allow any minors on the premises.

Nguyen said “Leave it to the council to decide.” Do argued that “You are asking the council to override the ABC” license requirements and suggested that Vo consider withdrawing his application and instead apply for a Type 47 license for businesses that primarily serve food. Vo, through his attorney, declined. Nguyen also suggested that the crimes reported may have been connected to a competitor.

An unusual process by which the lineup of the council to consider the item was chosen by picking a number preceded all of this. Three members of the panel – Mayor Tri Ta and councilmembers Kimberly Ho and Carlos Manzo – recused themselves from the matter, leaving only two left to conduct business.

That wouldn’t work, advised Christian Bettenhausen, city attorney. At least three members were needed to have a quorum for action, so each of the three recusing themselves picked a number, and the “winner” was Ho.

One aspect of the matter was competition between the nearby Bleu restaurant and the permit applicant’s enterprise. During the public comments, supporters of each of the businesses praised their side and criticized the other.

Finally, a motion by Do to overturn the commission’s approval failed for the lack of a second. Then a motion to uphold the planners failed on a 2-1 vote (Do against and Nguyen and Ho in favor) because it did not have the necessary three votes. The end result was to leave the planners’ decision in place.

A special meeting of the city council to conduct interviews of city manager candidates will be held on Monday, Jan. 18 at 8:30 a.m. The next regular meeting of the city council is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m.

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