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Sin City Nights to appeal dance permit revocation another day

Representatives for Sin City Nights have asked the city not to pull the nightclub's plug, after the Modesto Police Department revoked its dance permit last month.

Quality Tymes Corp., which owns the 10th Street building that houses Sin City Nights and its affiliated restaurant, Ocean's 10, is appealing the revocation.

The Modesto City Council was scheduled to hear the appeal Tuesday, but Quality Tymes requested a continuance Friday to Oct. 9, said Modesto police Lt. Ron Cloward, who oversees downtown dance permits.

Sin City Nights lost its permit Aug. 29, based on violations that occurred June 17 and July 15, according to the City Council agenda.

Cloward said officers found that the club did not have enough security on site nor a reliable method to track capacity, and employees used the back door as an exit when ordering people out of the club. Quality Tymes appealed Aug. 30.

Police officials listed the earlier violations as reasons for the council to reject the appeal in Tuesday's agenda item.

"It's something that's been going on for a long time that was documented over some time," Cloward said.

Sin City Nights opened this summer after Tymeless Cuisine, a restaurant in the building, closed earlier this year. According to Manager Tony Havens, Sin City Nights and Ocean's 10 operated under the Alcoholic Beverage Control license assigned to Quality Tymes, which had operated Tymeless Cuisine.

Ocean's 10 and Sin City Nights share a business license, according to city records. An employee at Ocean's 10 referred inquiries to Havens.

A call to Havens' phone Friday was directed to voice mail, where a recording said the mailbox was full and callers could not leave a message. The owners of Quality Tymes could not be reached for comment.

In the appeal letter, Quality Tymes states that it was holding a private event the night of June 17, when police found the nightclub was in violation for having go-go dancers present without notifying the city.

"The extent of concern regarding this incident was not communicated, even during our dance permit renewal two weeks later on June 30," the letter states.

The letter also says Sin City Nights had adequate security and capacity-counting measures in place, but police determined the club was in violation because officers did not communicate with staff.

"There has been no record of violations prior to the issuance if (sic) the notice of intent," the letter states. "This is our first written notification of any variance to the conditions of our dance permit."

The building that houses both businesses, at 953 10th St., is for sale, according to the online commercial real estate site loopnet.com. The building's listing was updated recently to show a reduced price of $2.4 million, down $200,000.

Sin City's dance permit troubles dovetail with a push by the Police Department to get a handle on the city's club scene.

The department recently denied a dance permit application by The Nines restaurant, another venue at 10th and J streets.

The department says it can't handle any more dance clubs in the neighborhood, which number 13, including Sin City. They have a combined occupancy of more than 5,000 people.

The Police Department this month presented an early draft of an ordinance that would place new restrictions on downtown entertainment venues. The City Council appointed a 12-person committee to review that pro-posal, as well as to craft recommendations for downtown safety.

"We need to decide somewhere along the line, what do we want our downtown to look like?" Mayor Jim Ridenour said ear-lier this month. "I'm not against the clubs. I'm not against the dance permits. But I don't want to see our city turn out to be 'Anything goes in downtown Modesto.' "

Les Knoll, who owns the downtown bar Copper Rhino, said problems at Sin City Nights and other nightclubs cast a pall over all businesses.

"They and other clubs brought a more negative focus to clubs downtown, when in reality, things are going pretty good here," Knoll said.

Although stricter permitting won't affect him much, Knoll said, it will limit the number of future nightclubs in downtown Modesto.

Cloward said Sin City Nights shouldn't be singled out, because its problems are symptoms of a downtown that's been revitalized without a plan.

"It was like 'Field of Dreams,' build it, and they will come," he said of downtown Modesto. "They came, but no one was really planning for what was coming."

He said the department spent $500,000 during the last fiscal year just to address downtown night life issues.

Bee staff writer Adam Ashton contributed to this report. Bee staff writer Ben van der Meer can be reached at bvandermeer@modbee.com or 578-2331.

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