Why Does City Staff Lie? 120 Fullerton at Planning Commission

First things first, I wrote about tonight’s Fullerton City Council Agenda item regarding 120 Fullerton and said they don’t seem to have a menu. After searching about a dozen sites I found a menu although I don’t know how old it is as this business has been operating on and off since at least 2018.

Considering they don’t advertise as a restaurant on social media or their own website I’m going to still make the educated guess that while they “have” a kitchen, they still won’t use it for more than bar grub as opposed to the full restaurant they’re legally required to be under a Type 47 liquor license and under Fullerton’s Muni code.

Being that Fullerton has a habit of rubber stamping Conditional Use Permits and Fullerton PD likewise rubber stamps Entertainment Permits – both irrespective of the compliance problems with these businesses – I’m not putting much faith in what the new owner is claiming.

But I wanted to make sure I wasn’t jumping the gun and hadn’t gotten things terribly wrong so I went back and watched the Planning Commission meeting and it didn’t disappoint. Let’s start with the comments from the Commissioners.

When Mr. Mansuri asked, validly, why the business was seeking a new Conditional Use Permit, a Staff member running the presentation named Christine, claimed that in 2019 the Municipal Code changed and that the owner of 120 Fullerton was voluntarily coming in to bring the businesses up to code.

What is left out, conveniently, is that the business (previously Envy Ultra Lounge and then the Woods) were in gross violation of the Municipal Code prior to the changes and the City did nothing. In fact in the presentation made by staff they state that the business was operating as a “Nightclub” while having a Type 47 Liquor Licenses which is reserved for restaurants.

Had Staff been doing their job at any time between 2009-present the CUP would have been revoked because this business clearly didn’t qualify as a restaurant under law or statute and as such needed a Type 48 License.

CA ABC License Type 47-48

We’re led to believe that the owner just wants to bring things up to code and that the mean old owners caused the problems but I can find social media posts and adverts from at least 2018 so this rings as untrue pleading.

I find it fascinating that Staff put in so much effort to spin things and left out pertinent details when their job is to be neutral arbiters of fact.

Here’s another interesting lie. Staff claims that the owner hasn’t had “Live Entertainment” since the start of the lockdowns in 2020 and that the owner simply wants to weigh her options and that’s why Staff included the Fullerton Municipal Code definition of “Live Entertainment”.

This particular lie is hilariously easy to check so of course nobody at City Hall bothered. Here’s the Code for reference (emphasis added):

15.04.040. Definitions.
LIVE ENTERTAINMENT includes, but is not limited to, musical performances (non-ambient, live or recorded), any act, play, revue, pantomime scene, dance act, DJ, karaoke, strolling musician or any combination thereof, performed by one (1) or more persons whether or not they are compensated for their performance.

Not only does 120 Fullerton advertise live Banda music each week (and has been for over a year), they’ve had a live DJ every week since the middle of last year by the looks of their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

So why is Staff, people we pay to tell the truth and give straight facts, lying about this? It’s easily verifiable.

Well, probably because the Commission and Council are too lazy to check themselves and they trust these bureaucrats to not do what they’re quite clearly doing in this case.

There were also code violations that needed to be addressed because allegedly the previous owner had made illegal changes to the businesses which violated code and the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Staff claims that this was only found out when somebody, Echo unit or code enforcement or somebody – Christine was vague on this point which is suspicious – did a walkthrough after the new owner purchased the business and applied for a CUP change in 2020. This is utter nonsense.

This data was alluded to in the staff report but pertinent details were left and nobody asked for followup. I’d like to know how often the Fullerton Police Department ECHO unit was on-site and didn’t notice these code violating changes but more importantly I’d like to know how the Fire Department missed the increased seating, which is a safety issue, on their yearly safety inspection?

On top of that, Live Entertainment permits as issued by the Police Chief are yearly and in order to obtain one the business needs to be in compliance with their Conditional Use Permit. So if they were out of compliance, were they still getting their rubber stamped Entertainment Permits?

The Fire Safety inspection as well as the inspection for the yearly Live Entertainment Permit for the offending years should have been included in the staff report because I’d like to know when exactly the changes were made to the business because I’m not just taking an owner’s word that “the old owner did it” especially when the current owner is currently lying about not having live entertainment on site and how long she’s been running the place.

When Mr. Carvalho asked about live entertainment, our disingenuous staffer prattled on about the “previous owner” and how they “had a DJ” and then made it seem like the new owner would just have to use some unknown open space “if” they decided to have a DJ or Karaoke or something.

When Mr. Cox asked Christine, straight out, if 120 Fullerton has a DJ or anything, this staffer said “No” and then went on with a long line of nonsense which included the following:

Christine: “For the last two years she has elected to not have live entertainment. When everybody else took their live entertainment outdoors, she has not had live entertainment
Doug Cox: “Indoors or outdoors”?
Christine: “Nope”:
Doug Cox: “Okay”.

Christine doubled down on this to Mr. Dino again later by saying that it’s been verified by Code Enforcement AND the ECHO unit that they don’t have live entertainment.

Ok. I’ve had enough.

First of all, the “new owner” has had Live Entertainment according to their own socials since at least 2018. You can click HERE for a video on Instagram of Live Banda Music in 2019.

Or you can click HERE if you want to see a video shot by one of their DJs that was taken while he was DJ’ing from inside 120 Fullerton back in October of this year.

Instagram and Facebook are your friends and a simple username or hashtag search brings about the desired information.

Staff is talking “ifs” and “maybes” while ignoring the reality of what actually happens in the business right now.

When the business owner came on over Zoom to answer questions she continued with the charade of “if we were to have live entertainment” all the while promoting live entertainment on her socials in the days, weeks and months BEFORE and AFTER this performance of hers.

This needs special explaining.

Planning Commission met, and heard this issue (and these lies) on 12 October 2022. A little over a month ago. That video as shot by the DJ was uploaded on October 29th. 2 weeks later.

They were having live music the very week Planning Commission met and have continued to have it all the while lying to City Hall and, this is the important part, while Staff prepared this item for the agenda that STILL SAYS they don’t have live music.

120 Fullerton DJ Oct 29

When Gambino finally asked why 120 Fullerton wanted a new CUP and what they’d gain from it, the answer was awesome. The difference is that under the current CUP, 120 Fullerton can’t have a cover charge or bottle service or happy hour.

Hey looks, they offered Bottle Service 4 days ago:

120 Fullerton Bottle Service

Commission voted 4-1 to approve the CUP because staff lied to their faces with only Mr. Dino voting no. Mr. Cox went on and waved poetic about how if they voted No on the CUP, the owner could just go back and use her old one because it never occurs to him that the City could enforce their Municipal Code and revoke the CUP. Mr. Cox also laughably asserted the lie that she doesn’t have Live Entertainment.

What is even going on here? This is a level of audacity that is almost impressive.

Personally I don’t care what this businesses does or how they want to operate but I’m quite annoyed that the applicant lied, Staff then doubled and tripled down on the lies and then Planning Commission didn’t even do the bare minimum in asking followup questions or doing research.

What will happen if Council approves this CUP is that they’re likely be open under the new hours for a set amount of time until people stop paying attention and then go back to just being the nightclub they’ve always been because once City Hall rubber stamps away our Municipal Code they never enforce it until they want to target something which is the problem.

Either the rules apply or they don’t and if they don’t, get rid of them for everybody.