SAN DIEGO — Neighbors reported “noise, all-night parties, underage strippers” and more illegal activity at a San Diego warehouse that operated as an unpermitted nightclub until authorities shut it down, city officials said Thursday.
The announcement came after City Attorney Mara Elliott’s office secured a final judgement in its case against the establishment, which “generated dozens of complaints” over the course of two years.
The Empire Gaming Lounge, as it was called, operated out of a building at 4178 Cartagena Drive in the Rolando area east of City Heights, according to the city attorney’s office.
Officials said it operated without permits for its live music and entertainment offerings — and without a San Diego Business Tax Certificate. It advertised food and alcohol, video game tournaments, a hookah lounge and special events throughout the coronavirus pandemic, including when public health orders required such venues to close.
And neighbors complained about it constantly, citing any number of nuisances, Elliott’s office said.
The San Diego Police Department estimates it spent more than 94 hours responding to calls at the location over 21 months. Neighbors made at least 33 calls during that time, “complaining of loud music and late-night rave parties.”
“Despite numerous complaints and visits from police, the lounge stayed open and continued to advertise its events online,” the city attorney’s office wrote. “Their New Year’s Eve 2020 party generated a dozen complaints from neighbors, reporting fireworks, drug use, and underage partiers being served alcohol.
“An event the next night brought complaints to the police about the presence of underage strippers. A party two weeks later resulted in 14 calls to police and culminated in the arrest of a felon in illegal possession of a gun.”
In January 2021, the County Health Officer issued a cease and desist order to the nightclub, and the following week City Code Enforcement inspectors noted a variety of violations, issuing a civil penalty notice and order to correct the hazards.
“But the parties and the complaints continued until at least mid-May 2021,” Elliott’s office wrote.
That’s when the city attorney stepped in. In July of that year, the office’s Nuisance Abatement Unit filed a complaint seeking an injunction and civil penalties against property owners Yael and David Alpert and three of the nightclub operators.
In a judgement reached last month, the Alperts agreed to shut down the club for good and bring the property up to code. They also agreed to pay the city’s investigative costs of $1,655 and $75,000 in civil penalties, though $50,000 of that amount will be suspended if they satisfactorily complete their other requirements.