Simi Valley Should Work With Candlelight

This, from Glen Gerson, owner of the Candlelight Night Club in Simi Valley, in the Simi Valley Acorn this past Friday:

“You all have the absolute right to the private enjoyment of your homes and we don’t have the right to affect that,” he said. “We are the ones who have stepped into your community and we have a responsibility to make it work.”

If you read the article in the Simi Valley Acorn, clearly you’ll see that some problems exist in the area surrounding the nightclub and it’s probably a pretty safe assumption that its behavior brought about by patrons of the club.  I was at the City Council meeting months ago when Mr. Gerson appeared there to address concerns related to a hit and run accident with a parked car in the neighborhood.  While it wasn’t confirmed the accident was caused by a patron of his business, Gerson showed up to express his concern and cooperation.  The reception by some of the members of City Council, including the Mayor, was cold.  Despite there being no legal responsibility on his part, Gerson paid the victim of the property damage outright.

I spoke to Mr. Gerson after the meeting and found him sincere.  He is a business man with a desire to expand his business by being a good neighbor.  He’s no stranger to the nightclub scene, operating similar venues in other cities.  He seems to genuinely appreciate and understand the importance of making a business like his “work” in a community like ours, and acknowledges that with some time, effort and expense, it can be done.

Glen Gerson went before the Council for approval on a project to expand the nightclub to include a 1750 square foot add-on for food preparation.  Surrounding residents showed up to oppose the expansion project.  Part of the construction effort includes additional sound insulation of the exterior walls and an expansion on the number of parking spaces in the lot.

A noise study was prepared for the project and Gerson has agreed to implement recommended mitigation measures to keep noise within acceptable levels, said Lauren Funaiole, an environmental planner for the city.

“They’re going to do a lot of improvements inside to the ceiling and the walls to insulate the building better,” she said.

Funaiole said the study—which measured noise levels with and without music— showed that Candlelight is technically in compliance with the city standard. However, the increase in noise level when music is playing is so significant that the city is requiring the restaurant to take further steps to shield residents, she said.

Interestingly, Gerson indicates a lack of desire in continuing to operate if he can’t operate within acceptable levels.

Gerson said he’s committed to resolving residents’ issues.

“I believe we can mitigate all this because we’ve done it before” at other properties, he said. “We either prove that we can do it or we shouldn’t have the right to operate or continue.”

I did not attend this council meeting, so I don’t know if the reception was as cold then as it was before.  Based on what I’ve read in the newspaper, it probably wasn’t the most comfortable meeting for Mr. Gerson to attend.  I hope that despite the obvious dissatisfaction of the residents that the City of Simi Valley and City Council agree to work with Glen Gerson.  With the questionable economy, a business like this brings badly needed dollars into our city, as well as badly needed jobs.

Considering the open, honest effort Glen Gerson is making to go above and beyond city requirements, I would hope the City can be open minded and patient so we can keep a thriving business going in Simi Valley.

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