Citing concerns from city staff and police regarding public safety, the city council of San Carlos voted to deny an expansion application by the .
Council members Andy Klein, Mark Olbert and Ron Collins voted against the club's proposed expansion, while Matt Grocott and Bob Grassilli voted in favor of allowing it.
In what City Manager Jeff Maltbie described as the city's most important land use decision over the course of the last decade, a majority of the council elected to agree with by San Mateo County Captain Greg Rothaus, head of the San Carlos Patrol Bureau and other city officials.
According to Rothaus, an inordinate amount of the city's public safety resources will go toward policing and responding to calls for assistance from the Carlos Club, should its proposal to double in capacity size be allowed.
Club owner Fred Duncan expressed a willingness to compromise the amount of people allowed in the bar at one time, but said that he hoped to ultimately refocus the purpose of the club from being a nightclub into becoming a restaurant.
Duncan had attempted to transition the Carlos Club from a bar to entertainment destination that features an open air patio, live music and expanded room for seating which would result in nearly doubling its patron capacity.
He refuted the notion that the club would attract a majority of the city's call for emergency response and said that it would be his goal to turn the club into a sophisticated venue, rather than a standard nightclub that is rife with patrons engaging in misbehavior.
But city staff members said they were concerned that by allowing the club to expand, the amount of alcohol-related incidences would increase across the city, therefore lowering the general public safety standard in San Carlos.
Duncan had expressed a willingness to increase his on-site security should the expansion be approved, but Rothaus and others noted that many arrests of patrons take place away from the club.
The owner, also a San Carlos resident, questioned the club's sustainability without the expansion being allowed. He insisted that it was his intention to expand the club and maintain ownership throughout the process, but some members of the city staff pointed that allowing the increased capacity could result in paving the way for a sale of the cub to a new owner.
But ultimately, council members questioned whether the proposed club fit the character of San Carlos, and whether it was worth the risk to rule in favor of the proposal despite the warnings from staff and law enforcement.
"I'm not sure this is a model that really fits San Carlos," said Olbert. "I worry that the community could be left with something that they do not really desire."
Klein agreed, and cited examples of other clubs in nearby cities that allowed increased patron capacity and then experienced severe issues with dangerous behavior such as the Blue Chalk in downtown Palo Alto, where a man was murdered in recent years.
"I don't think this is the right thing to do for our town," said the Mayor.
Grocott, also an independent business owner, voted in favor of allowing the expansion and also noted that he sided with Duncan due to a camaraderie shared between most local merchants.
But ultimately, the wishes of he and Grassilli were overruled.
"I want this project to be successful but I don't think I can vote for it in the matter that it is constituted," said Collins.
The council's decision overturns an earlier decision last month by the city's which laid the groundwork to allow the proper city permit for the expansion.