Local News

JP23 entertainment permit renewed with restrictions

A remedy hearing held at the Fullerton police department on August 27, 2021 by Police Chief Dunn resulted in restrictions on hours of entertainment for JP23, a downtown Fullerton restaurant/bar. The hearing was called based on input from other city departments, calls for police service, and criminal investigations related to JP23. Remedy hearings cannot be appealed according to the municipal code, therefore Chief Dunn had to deny the entertainment permit altogether until the special hearing results were determined by City Council. The results to uphold Chief Dunn’s recommendations was announced at a City Council meeting on Feb 1.

JP23 exterior. Photo by Jesse La Tour

The Fullerton City Council held a special meeting to hear the appeal of the denial of renewal for entertainment permit for JP23 on Dec 16, 2021. At the special hearing attorney Greg Palmer represented the city of Fullerton. Attorney Jennifer Harris represented Jacob Poozhikala, owner of JP23. Harold W. Potter, Mayor Fred Jung, Mayor Pro Tem Whitaker, and Councilmembers Ahmad Zahra, and Jesus Silva presided. Witnesses were Kellee Fritzal (Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development), Lieutenant Craft, Chief Dunn, Sammy Marzougui (JP23 general manager), and Jacob Poozhikala.

Fritzal introduced the evidence that concluded that JP23 did not meet the requirements stipulated in their conditional use permit (CUP) that was issued Oct 2019. The restaurant was required to obtain a building permit to install exterior lighting within 60 days of the issuance of the CUP. They did not apply for the building permit for two years and they installed lighting on their patio without a required building permit.

Both lawyers reviewed the hundreds of police service calls with Lieutenant Craft. Many of the calls were determined to have happened in the vicinity and did not directly implicate the restaurant/night club.

Police Chief Dunn was asked to explain the remedy hearing and reasons for denying the entertainment permit. Dunn said that due to input from other City departments, calls for police service, and criminal investigations related to JP23, the Chief of Police called a Remedy Meeting at the Fullerton Police Department on August 27, 2021. The remedy required JP23 to remove the window tinting, eliminate the fishbowl (six-person drink) from the menu, and place a small poster (letter size) in the women’s bathroom telling women how to be safe with their drinks in public. Chief Dunn also decreased their entertainment hours to 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on the weekends. Poozhikala testified that a good portion of his business comes from patrons that come in after 10pm.

“It is a chunk of my business, by almost 50 percent,” Poozhikala said. No evidence to support the claim of projected loss was presented.

City Council directed the Chief of Police to issue an Entertainment Permit to JP23 with hours of entertainment ceasing at 11pm on Sunday through Wednesday and at 12am on Thursday through Saturday. The JP23 Entertainment Permit will be reviewed in nine months from issuance date. Under the current CUP terms and conditions, occupancy will be limited to a maximum of 299 people. According to the approved security plan, people lining up to get into the club will be limited and exterior lighting must come into compliance with the existing CUP prior to issuance of the entertainment permit.

At the Feb 1 City Council Meeting in Closed Session, City Council provided their decision on the appeal to the City Attorney. At the beginning of the Regular Session, the City Attorney reported that City Council voted 4 – 0 – 1 (Absent: Dunlap) in Closed Session to support the recommendation of the Fullerton Police Chief to issue an Entertainment Permit with limited evening hours.

To read more go to: https://fullerton.legistar1.com/fullerton/meetings/2022/2/1991_A_City_Council_-_Successor_Agency_-_Housing_Authority_22-02-01_Agenda.pdf.