FRESH DIRT > Restaurant owner fights city to keep license
Since 2009, Cypress Dine and Lounge on Union and Cedar streets downtown has been serving and entertaining locals with great food and one-of-a-kind live music. But the popular restaurant, which doubles as a nightclub, has routinely been the subject of complaints from neighbors who say that noise levels are too high and that its patrons litter the neighborhood.
This has caught the attention of the city’s Planning Department, which claims that Cypress is not abiding by the city’s regulations. The bar, which capitalizes on its clientele’s need for a unique outing experience in Santa Cruz, now faces the threat of having to scale back their hours and lose their entertainment license.
Ashton Hodge, owner of Cypress, went before the city’s Zoning Administrator last Wednesday, July 6, to defend his establishment during a public hearing. The hearing, which was held to determine whether or not the Cypress Lounge was complying with the permit conditions, did not conclude in favor of Hodge. Hodge proceeded to file an appeal on Tuesday, July 12 in hopes that he can convince the Planning Department and city officials that Cypress Lounge is a bona fide, law-abiding establishment.
While the Planning Department claims that the Cypress Lounge is a nuisance to the neighborhood, Hodge sees it differently. He says that “most of the people who leave alcohol bottles [in the neighborhood] are the homeless,” which congregate in the area because of the nearby tunnel.
He feels that the Planning Department, who based their decision to pull the bar’s entertainment permit in part due to noise complaints, is being unfair. He has already reduced the hours of amplified music and all entertainment to 10 p.m. from Sunday to Wednesday, and replaced the original sound system with one that is smaller and not as loud. Last week, he hired First Alarm, a security company that services other businesses in the downtown area. Hodge made these changes specifically to meet the entertainment permit’s conditions.
Neighborhood residents Jenifer Sahara and Alecia Kringen, do not find any problem with Cypress Lounge. “We live downtown, that’s what we chose,” says Sahara. Asked about the noise, Kringen says she sees both sides, but does not take issue with Cypress’ current closing time of 1 a.m.