This story follows a current investigation by this information group into how Bay Space counties use fines to implement their COVID-19 public well being orders. To learn the primary story, click here.
The Cats restaurant and bar — a landmark of kinds for Santa Cruz-bound drivers due to its distinguished presence alongside southbound Freeway 17 — has been fined $77,500 for allegedly offering late-night dwell grownup leisure indoors and violating different COVID-19 public well being orders, in line with Santa Clara County data.
Paperwork just lately obtained by this information group reveal that the house owners of The Cats breached county zoning and enterprise rules in addition to well being orders by providing indoor providers and dwell leisure, particularly grownup leisure, with out a allow from 10 p.m. to five a.m.
The county’s zoning code defines an “grownup leisure institution” as one which options “topless or bottomless dancers, strippers, or any entertainers commonly displaying specified anatomical areas for remark by patrons or clients.”
The Cats is situated in an unincorporated space at 17533 Santa Cruz Freeway close to Los Gatos, so it falls below the county’s jurisdiction and legal guidelines.
Grownup leisure venues are outlawed in most areas of Santa Clara County and require a allow within the few locations the place allowed. The Cats is in a zoning district the place grownup leisure is prohibited, in line with James Stephens of the county’s code enforcement division.
County officers stated they acquired a number of complaints throughout the winter about an “illegal operation” at The Cats. They stated they made a number of unsuccessful makes an attempt by cellphone and e-mail to contact the restaurant and issued a warning letter earlier than ultimately visiting the institution in individual.
Throughout a website go to on Jan. 9, county enterprise enforcement officers famous a number of violations of public well being orders meant to curb the unfold of COVID-19, akin to these requiring social distancing, mask-wearing and displayed indicators displaying allowed capability.
The enforcement officers additionally found that the restaurant was providing indoor eating and grownup leisure between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., in line with the discover of fines issued to the enterprise. Statewide public well being orders at the moment prohibited each indoor and outside eating in Santa Clara County.
As a result of the enterprise allegedly did not appropriate the violations and submit a compliance assertion inside an allotted 72-hour grace interval, fines totaling $77,500 had been issued.
“Through the inspection, you confirmed to me that your online business facility allowed indoor operation and dwell leisure (you claimed it was live-streamed and that people weren’t watching it in individual) on the Violation Tackle after 10:00 p.m.,” a code enforcement officer wrote within the discover to The Cats proprietor Aaron Crites and property proprietor Mark E. Edwards.
When requested by this information group to make clear what sort of “dwell leisure” was supplied, a county spokesperson merely categorised it as “grownup leisure.”
Efforts to achieve The Cats’ restaurant operator and the property proprietor had been unsuccessful Friday. The restaurant has been shuttered for greater than a month, and although its website says “Reopening quickly,” it doesn’t state when the house owners plan to renew eating providers.
The house owners of The Cats haven’t but paid any of the $77,500 in fines, in line with data obtained by a public data act request. It was unclear Friday whether or not they have appealed the fines or enlisted an lawyer to assist get them diminished.
When requested whether or not some other type of enforcement was taken in opposition to the enterprise, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Workplace stated the county’s code enforcement division was dealing with the matter.
The Cats Roadhouse was established at its present location in 1896 as a approach station for horse-drawn lumber wagons on their method to San Jose, in addition to a “rowdy social membership for native residents,” in accordance to the restaurant’s website. Over the previous century, the institution has served as a speakeasy, realty workplace, gun store and sporting items retailer. It was transformed again to a restaurant and bar in 1967.
Santa Clara County, together with six different counties within the Bay Space and some others throughout the state, adopted new legal guidelines final summer season authorizing their public well being officers to levy civil fines in opposition to companies and people that violate COVID-19 public well being orders. Since most legislation enforcement companies balked at imposing the orders as legal issues, the counties determined to deal with violations as civil infractions topic to fines.
An investigative story revealed by this information group final month revealed that Santa Clara County has come down considerably more durable on companies that break COVID-19 public well being orders than do all different counties.
The Cats is considered one of about 400 companies fined a combined total of $5.7 million by Santa Clara County for violating such orders as of March 1. In distinction, six different Bay Space counties that subject fines for related infractions have collected a mixed $82,000 from 68 companies in all, in line with an evaluation of knowledge from every county.