Council Denies Restaurant’s Permit Request for Dancing, Later Hours

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Although some residents fought for their right to party on the peninsula, city council voted Tuesday night to deny the permit requesting to extend closing hours and add dancing at Woody’s Wharf.

After more than two hours of discussion, council voted 4-1, with councilman Ed Selich dissenting, mayor pro tem Rush Hill recusing himself for a conflict of interest, and councilwoman Leslie Daigle absent.

The vote will reverse the approval given by the planning commission last year. Staff will come back to council with a resolution that allows earlier opening hours, a patio cover to be built and modifications to the valet parking requirements, but without the later closing hours, dancing or ability to remove tables and chairs later at night.

Councilman Mike Henn, who represents the peninsula, usually agrees with the planning commission’s decisions, he said.

“But this time, I think they got it exactly, completely wrong,” he said.

It’s an “icon” on the peninsula, but the extended hours and dancing would “change and intensify the operating characteristics of this business and has a nightclub-like impact on the area,” Henn said.

Extending the hours also increases the risk of traffic accidents, arrests and injuries, noted mayor Keith Curry.

During public comment, residents were on both sides of the issue: Some felt it would become too noisy and disruptive, while others enjoyed the nightlife aspect.

The majority of comments, from both letters and public speakers at the meeting, were against Woody’s request.

“We don’t have a problem with Woody’s the restaurant,” said resident Tom Durant at the meeting, “we do have a problem with Woody’s the illegal nightclub operation.”

The area is a “war zone” and is “totally out of control,” he added.

Resident Laurie Morris of West Newport said it sounds like the permit applicant has always had “bad behavior” and is asking council permission to continue that bad behavior, she commented.

“That’s just a bad policy,” she said.

Another peninsula resident said he moved to the area for its diversity and social life.

“The nightlife in Newport Beach is not new,” he said. The area has always had this character, he said, and it seems as though other residents are trying to change that into something that it isn‘t, he added.

It’s a positive aspect for him, he added.

Woody’s has been in the area for many years and they are good operators, noted longtime resident Larry Edwards.

But not everyone agrees.

“We on the peninsula are tired of having to push back against all these alcohol establishments that feel they have the right to overly impact our area,” Morris said. “We have been dealing with this for years. Just as Woody’s has been there for years, so have we the residents.”

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