Anna de Leon, owner of Anna’s Jazz Island in the Gaia Building on Allston Way, filed a complaint with the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board Monday, charging the neighboring catering business with hosting illegal and dangerous events.
De Leon’s complaint said that the Glass Onion Catering Company, which has leased the performance space and mezzanine in the Gaia Building next to the jazz club, is a serious detriment to her business and to the well-being of downtown Berkeley.
Both the jazz club, at 2120 Allston Way, and Glass Onion Catering, at 2118 Allston Way, lease space from landlord Patrick Kennedy of Panoramic Interests. The businesses share a lobby and restrooms.
On Saturday, de Leon said she was expecting a crowd that night at her club, but was surprised to find that Glass Onion was also hosting a party, which she claims was unlawful. Neither Glass Onion nor Kennedy was contacted for this story, which is based wholly on the allegations in de Leon’s complaint.
“As per usual Glass Onion practice, I was given no notice that there would be a huge party,” de Leon wrote in her complaint, which was sent by mail to city officials Monday. “I saw the security guard and learned the nature of the event. Cesar Mejia, an employee of Panoramic Interests, told me he had rented the entire space for his daughter’s 18th birthday party.”
De Leon said that she has written several letters to the Planning Department, Fire Department and Building Department complaining of the uses to which the neighboring address is being put, all with no use permit. She has also said the catering company has hosted many large events where they have served alcohol despite the fact that they have no license to do so, cutting into her business.
De Leon said she believed that because of her earlier complaints, Kennedy would be required by the city to go through a public process before the ZAB to gain a use permit and that his application for an occupancy permit for 300 people on the mezzanine area had been denied last month.
Despite this, the party was held Saturday and before long the police had to be called to contain the rowdy party guests.
“The huge parties with teenagers and young adults have proved very detrimental to my business,” de Leon wrote. “The worst so far occurred this past Saturday.”
She described the events at the party:
“By 9:00 p.m., we were full and the performance space next door at 2118 was overflowing with young adults, mostly young men. The guard was keeping party- goers out of the theater. Over my objections, they were coming through my business to get to the shared bathrooms and gain entry to the party from the back door of the theater. I complained to Mr. Mejia in the lobby but he could not control the crowd. I had no access to the security guard who was blocking the theater entrance since the front lobby was packed with young people. Every time I left my front door to get help, more people came through. By 10 p.m., I had been shoved aside several times by young adult men. I called the police the first time. By then, approximately 100 young men had forcibly come through. We had become the ‘alternate entrance’ to the party.”
De Leon said many of her customers felt intimidated by the event which had almost taken over her club space. She called the police again.
“Just before the police arrived, a second guard physically barricaded the entrance to my business with his body. By this time, approximately 200 young adults were massed outside the main entrance on the sidewalk, approximately 40 were closed in the front lobby and locked out of the party. ... Young people were climbing either into or out of the mezzanine windows.”
The police arrived, shut the party down and told everyone to leave. Some were so drunk that they could hardly walk out the building, she said, noting that she heard shouts and fights break out on Shattuck Avenue soon after.
De Leon mentioned numerous times she has complained to the city about the unlawful events hosted next door.
“I have a use permit for my premises which allows me to serve food and alcoholic beverages and present music to the public,” she wrote. “Neither the owner nor lessee of 2118 holds a use permit or ABC license for any food or beverage service. There is a requirement for cultural use, and dining hall/private party use is clearly not cultural use.”
“Needless to say, this melee has terrible consequences for my business,” de Leon wrote in her complaint. “Many of my customers were fearful. Not a single new customer entered our doors after 9:30 p.m. The hundreds of unhappy young adults massed on the sidewalk were a considerable deterrent to new customers. ... People erroneously thought my business the source of the problem. This is bad for the image of my business (and bad for downtown).”