By Andrea Swayne

Damien Collins, owner of StillWater Spirits & Sounds began circulating a letter via social media this week asking for community support after receiving orders from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to cease having live music until further notice.

Efforts to contact the ABC by press time were unsuccessful.

Calls to Collins were not returned.

In his letter Collins alleges a group of Lantern Bay Estates residents have organized in an effort to do away with all music in the Town Center-Lantern District and his business is but one target.

“We have not violated any city noise ordinances,” Collins wrote, adding that the building his restaurant is in has hosted live music continuously since the late 1950s. The building was most recently home to Renaissance before being purchased by Collins in 2012.

Collins likened the complaints to “people who buy houses next to an airport and then complain about plane noise” but also said he had taken steps during the building’s renovation to circumvent noise, such as the removal of the outdoor stage.

While City Manager Doug Chotkevys said he hasn’t had an opportunity to review the ABC’s order, he has some concerns regarding local control with the ABC.

Chotkevys said that along with previous actions taken in the Lantern District by the ABC, their halting of live music at StillWater shows a tendency for the body to disregard the city’s local noise ordinances and CUPs.

In 2005 the city granted a conditional use permit to wine bar/restaurant, Purple Feet (a building also on Del Prado and currently the location of Luxe Restaurant & Martini Bar) to extend the hours of alcohol service from 10:30 p.m. every night to 11 p.m. from Sunday to Wednesday and midnight from Thursday to Saturday. The ABC disregarded the city permit and ordered alcohol service be limited to 10:30 p.m.

“We have no confirmed violations of the noise ordinance at that location since I’ve been here,” Chotkevys said.

Chotkevys said he intends to comply with a request by the City Council to begin a dialogue with the ABC and locally elected officials in Sacramento (Bill Brough and Pat Bates) to look for a resolution.

“The business operators and residents have to come together with the city to find a mutually agreeable place where everybody can coexist,” he said. “They do it in plenty of other cities and I’m sure we can do it here too.”

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comments (8)

  • Attending a city council meeting a month ago the owners of Stillwater had their pictures taken and were given an award for their restaurant in the harbor. The very first resident allowed to speak admonished he same owners for their desire to have music and serve until 2 AM. The residents concern was the reduction of his property values ( he is planning on building up to 30 units on Del Prado across from Stillwater ) and was anticipating that he would have to disclose the proximity to Stillwater being a bar with music until 2 AM. I personally have witnessed drunken behavior in late hours there and it is a shame that the bars owners didn’t realize that they are amongst high end residences who’s owners are not going to live next to a loud bar into the wee hours of the morning.

  • Interesting comment from the owners : “We have not violated any city noise ordinances,” Collins wrote, adding that the building his restaurant is in has hosted live music continuously since the late 1950s. The building was most recently home to Renaissance before being purchased by Collins in 2012.”
    I played in that building during the late 50″s and 60’s and it was a pottery making business.
    Two cousins of mine who worked there can confirm that. There wasn’t any music being played outside or inside. I suggest for truthful feedback asking those whom live close to Hennessey’s Tavern if they’d welcome music until 2AM. I live three blocks away from Hennessey’s and can hear each music cord and lousy vocal every Sunday.
    Face it, once those homes are built those who can afford to buy in are not going to accept loud music at that late hour. Regardless of which agency has control over the noise issue the current restaurant owners have two solutions at their fingertips: turn down the music level and/or stop it at an time suitable to the surroundings.

  • oh no…drunken behavior outside a “bar” …what next? airplanes taking off from airports?
    and high end residences??? how about the fact that Stillwaters and the places before them have been playing music and serving alcohol for a lot longer than some elitists who live across the street- also, the poor developer wants to drive a business out of business so he can make a bigger profit tsk tsk I am real concerned.

    The city of Dana Point has no problem with this, why should a few old rich crackpots, a STATE agency, and one greedy developer have the power to do this?

  • Anyone complaining ever hear of double pane sound proof windows? I’ve patronized Stillwaters, Reneissance and Dana Point Wine Cafe & have never observed drunken behavior. What I have observed is everyone having a great time. How is it that a few whiners speak for the majority and a State agency is trying to put an established business out of business without due process? “Harboring the Good Life”? Not!

  • I live close by and while walking our dog in the evening can hear the music at Heritage Park which is two blocks away. I enjoy live music and have been a patron of Renaissance, Stillwater, Hennessy’s etc. However I do understand how awful it can be when there is a sound that disrupts your “peace” in your home that you have zero control over. Put yourselves in someone else’s shoes – how would you feel if you had to deal with that multiple times a week and if you were unable to enjoy your space because of something like this? Think about that prior to calling some homeowners whiners, elitists etc.

    We should be able to come up with a solution that is mutually beneficial for businesses to be successful as well as residents not being directly affected by ongoing constant noise. The City of Dana Point is very PRO business over residents – especially for anything touching the Town Center concept.

  • These wealthy homeowners are but a tiny segment of the Dana Point populace. There are many of us who love music and the Town Center vision. Music should be a major part of that vision. There is a large segment including myself who are extremely upset that a small minority can dictate the policy of our city. This fight has just begun, and I for one will work hard to keep music and Stillwater as a part of the Dana Point scene. To the naysayers I say that there are some good deals in Leisure World. Go check them out.

  • I frequented the Renaissance for years, enjoying the music and the great food – no complaints. I’ve never seen “drunken” behavior outside the establishment. Now, for some unknown reason it’s become an issue for the homeowners across the road, why now? The building itself is a historic treasure that hopefully the residents will continue to frequent in the years to come.

    Just because some wealthy folks across the road decide they NOW don’t like where they chose to live don’t penalize the rest of us. I’ll bet the average age of the residents of Lantern Bay is 75, wanna bet? Bottom line, the building and it’s restaurants were here first, the Lantern Bay folks came later – much later and now they complain?

    Let’s put this to a vote! Stillwater stays, the music stays, who doesn’t like music?

  • It sickens me when I hear these efforts at shutting down music in one of the few places in OC that serves residents live music. I find it idiotic that anyone would buy RE near a venue that has been around a long time if they can’t handle noise. OC needs MORE live music venues, not less. I could perhaps sympathize with long-time owners, but based on the commentary here I don’t think these DP’ers have a leg to stand on in making their argument to close down Stillwater’s music scene. I felt the same way about the Port Theater in CDM and the Miramar, which s/b turned into a live music venue in SC. Our county needs desperately to increase the number of boutique live music venues, lest OC become more of a bland development focused environment than it already is. Install your double panes. Buy earplugs. Or just move. There are plenty of other beautiful places to live in OC that are not near business/entertainment districts.

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