Hennessey’s St. Patricks Day 2007 – Thumbing their nose at the city?

September 5, 2007 No Comments

In March of 2006, on St. Patrick’s Day, Hennessey’s – a local PB bar, was charged by the San Diego City for the misdemeanor violation of overcrowding. The posted occupancy limit is set to provide a safe environment for all patrons and employees. The limit for this establishment is 188 patrons. By the time the Fire Department arrived to check the crowd was up to 512 patrons.

This is big business. How much money do you think these additional 324 patrons were spending on this holiday?

Over 90 days later the City announced (click here for press release) that a fine of $1,720 would be levied and that “as part of the plea bargain agreement, the clubs must now monitor their occupancy load to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Subsequent overcrowding violations could result in additional fines and possible closure of the establishments.”

Case closed?

In March of 2007 on St. Patrick’s Day however what does Hennessey’s do? Remember they are on probation? The staff takes out all the seating, tables and other furniture – loading it into a U-Haul parked behind the bar. They hire additional security staff to help and they install three port-a-potties outside on the sidewalk. A table is setup at the door to sell merchandise and extra mini-bars are added inside. Why all this preparation?

As it turns out the Fire Department does an inspection and again finds the bar critically over-crowded. They work out an agreement with the management to empty the place and allow them to remain open for business – subsequently allowing some patrons back inside.

Their punishment? The City announces that Hennessey’s must pay a $2,500 fine payable to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Foundation. Click here for the press release.

My concern is that one, Hennessey’s did not receive a punishment to fit the crime. Overcrowding is a serious violation and to do this two years in a row, while being on ‘probation’ is outrageous. I’m also concerned that the fine was money contributed to an organization related to the Fire Department – not for funding additional enforcement actions but, for other – I’m sure very worthy – causes. To read again that “As part of the plea bargain agreement, the clubs must not allow any more overcrowding to occur on the premises. Subsequent overcrowding violations could result in additional fines and possible closure of the establishments.” is just a slap in the face.

What do you think?

In this shot you can see that a table was setup out front to sell clothing and merchandise. One of the several security guards is out front on the right.

In this shot you see the three port-a-potties positioned on the sidewalk for patrons.

And in this shot you see the employees clearing the furniture out and loading it up in a U-Haul truck (which was also parked blocking the sidewalk for the evening).

I also remember being told that two other bars were overcrowded on St. Patrick’s Day yet I have not yet heard what their punishment was – and am thinking perhaps they just got a slap on the wrist. One was The Dog with nearly 100 patrons in a business rated for only 48 people. The second was the Typhoon Saloon – who voluntarily closed their bar for the evening.

Bars and Restaurants

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