Walnut Creek Tries to Rein In Nightclub

Update: Business owner Matt DeLima says Vice Ultra Lounge will fight the accusations at a Planning Commission hearing to review the lounge's Conditional Use Permit, including a recommendation to reset closing time to 11 p.m.

Update, 6:00 p.m. Thursday, comments from Vice Ultra Lounge owner Matt DeLima.

For the second time in a year, the city is using a Conditional Use Permit hearing to get tough on a downtown nightclub.

The city is trying to rein in the Vice Ultra Lounge at 1251 Arroyo Way. Vice's violations threaten public health and safety, according to a city report for the Planning Commission.

In a telephone interview Thursday, business owner Matt DeLima denied city allegations and said Walnut Creek authorities are trying to force the nightclub to close. "I don't know why they treat a small business owner like this," said DeLima, who a year ago responded with humor (a song parody) to run-ins he had had with Walnut Creek police. More about the DeLima interview is below.

A public hearing and review of Vice's permit, originally on the Planning Commission agenda for Sept. 13, was continued to a Oct. 25 meeting because of a lack of a quorum.

The Vice Lounge has not followed provisions of its use permit from 2009 with changes in hours and atmosphere and service of alcohol after hours, resulting in frequent disturbances in and around the club, including "drunkenness, physical violence, theft, property damage, drugs and weapons," as cited in a detailed Sept. 13 report by the Walnut Creek Community Development Department. See the attached PDF.

Alcohol service was supposed to stop at 1:15 a.m. by terms of the permit, yet "closing time seems to result in some altercations even at 2:30 a.m.," according to the city report by Planning Manager Steve Buckley.

The city's report cites:

  • the lounge contradicting its business plan by catering to "a nightclub atmosphere" rather than "casual dining or entertainment" including later business hours.
  • the publishing of alcohol promotions.
  • "inadequate security."
  • food service being not always available.

Compiling police accounts, the planning report cites:

  • 30 fights since 2009, including several that required a large police response (that number is inaccurate, said DeLima).
  • "19 assaults, including several claims of assault by bouncers."
  • 31 public intoxication reports and arrests.
  • "Numerous auto burglaries, thefts, damage and illegal parking, registration or licenses."

The planning report concludes by recommending hours be limited to 11 p.m. "with the expectation that full compliance will be had with all other existing conditions of business."

Vice owner responds

DeLima said he has hired an attorney and will make his case to the Planning Commission Oct. 25.

He believes the city is trying to force the club to close in preparation for a six-story apartment complex about to break ground across the street. "They want the nightclub out and they're using any excuse they can," he said. "The timing is so obvious.

"We've never been cited one time for serving after hours," DeLima said. "I've got witnesses. I'm so good about the 1:15 (last call for alcohol) thing. We don't have anything. I've got 10 security walking around and taking everyone's drinks."

The police accounts include trumped-up charges and incidents that just didn't happen, DeLima said. Three incidents were listed on nights the club was not open. In two consecutive weekends, there are listings for patrons leaving bleeding from the face — that never happened, DeLima said.

Through the Conditional Use Permit, the city seeks to have the club open and serving food for lunch. But Vice Ultra Lounge doesn't draw a lunch crowd, DeLima said — "If Walnut Creek wants to pay my employees to stand there for five hours, that's on them … California state law says I don't have to with my type of license."
When Vice Ultra has special events, police drive by as many as 50 times in a night, the club owner said. There's a personal vendetta of Walnut Creek authorities against him, he added.with personal lyrics to the tune of Tracy Chapman's Fast Car.

In February, the city imposed Conditional Use Permit changes on Lift Lounge at 1321 Locust St., including moving up the deadline for the latest sale of alcohol from 12:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. By June, a city report noted a reduction in calls for police services in and around Lift "since the City Council took action to modify the operating standards."

In May, the City Council approved a 39-page "nuisance-based" ordinance for alcohol establishments intended to provide clarity and consistency in permitting for downtown bars and restaurants.

barbara September 28, 2012 at 10:36 PM
I have said the same thing. I have been going to vice for almost a year. I have never seen any incident go down at all and they always call last call at 115. WC is just so racist. People say play less hip hop are you kidding me. I go on satursdays because that is when hip hop is played. You guys have other events like the poetry slam the country night and salsa sundays etc. So for me to hear someone say play less hip hop makes me think their racist seeing as hip hop attracts "black" people...I hope Mr DeLima fights back with all he has cause i would hate for VUL to close in any way shape or form. People these days should honestly be ashamed of themselves
barbara September 28, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Triple Canopy September 28, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Barbara, & Adreana... the record speaks for itself. Open your eyes. Delima has been talked to, warned, noticed.. you name it. He seems to think his responsibility ends when the customer exits the door... it does not. The prevalence of drunk customers and fights around the club, in part, affects the entire City by being a total drain on available police officers. WCPD are not babysitters yet that is what it takes at Vice to make sure crap doesn't happen. Nice of you to play the race/racist card... soooo easy.. The race card/discrimination thing is whipped out out whenever the person complaining does not have a viable point to argue. WEAK.
barbara September 29, 2012 at 12:33 AM
You can weak if you want to but in reality it is played because of its truth. Everytime.i have been to vice I have always stayed after by the car to talk to friend until there is not many people left and still have NEVER seen any fights or disorderly conduct. But the unusual presence of police drive bys is crazy to me and does border on side of harrassment. Police in walnut creek are racist there is no denying that. I gave seen and heard it from them first hand. Alot of them have the mentality of black people are a nuisance to their city. This is unbelievable to me. If u cant see it then you turn a blind eye to it and that is weak. I stand for what I believe is right. Trying to squeeze out a small business owner when they have complied with the limitations that have been set for them is not very nice and definately not good ethics and goes to show they have low moral standards as well. Maybe he should put up cameras to document his side since no one seems to believe him. I have been to many clubs in SF,SJ etc that do have fights and drunken mishaps and you dont see them shut down. I dont think the city of wc has any 100% solid grounds for trying to close this business. Another thing Mr. Delima has no control over what people do after they leave his property and go somewhere else so why is he being held accountable. People always wanna point the finger at someone else instead of themselves. Smdh
ricardo October 12, 2012 at 11:06 PM
THE OWNER IS SLIME BALL=TOTALLY WRONG AND FALSE. Matt DeLima is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, I have known him since elementry school and I don't know of one person who doesn't not genuinely like Matt for the wonderful person he is. Jim, take some time to go to lunch or dinner with Matt and you will realize your the Slime Ball for making such a statement with no justification. G.I.G.


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