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Malarky's, party vote postponed to May 10

City Council tries to balance economic development versus problems with excessive drinking on the peninsula.

April 27, 2011|By Mike Reicher, mike.reicher@latimes.com

NEWPORT BEACH — Call it a draw: For both the residents who complain about the pernicious effects of alcohol and the pub owner who likes to sell large quantities of it.

The Newport Beach City Council on Tuesday night decided to postpone two votes — one that might limit the occupancy of Malarky's Irish Pub and another that would impose heavy fines on individuals who are "loud and unruly" at residential parties. Both were postponed until May 10.

"We saw tonight the intersection of an issue that is very bad on the [Balboa] Peninsula — all the people who fill the streets and drink — with the challenge of trying to have economic development in a location that desperately needs it," said Councilman Keith Curry.

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Mayor Mike Henn proposed closing Malarky's door at midnight to allow patrons to filter out slowly, instead of all pouring into the streets at 2 a.m., but owner Mario Marovic said he needed time to consider the proposal. Marovic has plans to expand his restaurant.

The council was considering an appeal of a Planning Commission decision that would have limited the restaurant's occupancy after 11 p.m.

In an effort to appease police concerns about more problems with drunks, the Planning Commission wanted the bar to reduce its occupancy by about 50 people at 11 p.m. Marovic said he couldn't imagine kicking people out at that time.

About 50 people supported Malarky's at the council meeting, many of the wearing buttons that said, "I support Malarky's Irish Pub."

Many others spoke about problems that drunks cause on the Balboa Peninsula. They said the bar's planned renovations — which would nearly double the occupancy from 91 to 166 people — will cause havoc on the streets.

Drew Wetherholt, who lives a few hundred feet from the pub on 30th Street, showed a slideshow to demonstrate the nuisance of excessive drinking on the peninsula.

Some photos depicted men urinating in alleys. One slide showed a newspaper clipping about the recent drowning of Alan Lin, the UC Riverside student who was last seen at Rudy's Pub and Grill.

Marovic showed a short video with longtime residents giving testimonials and advocating for the expanded restaurant. He discussed his security plan and how he has already improved the property.

"A better facility makes a better demographic," he said.

Henn and three other council members said they would support requiring Marovic to close the front door at midnight.

By the time midnight approached Tuesday night, many of the City Council members appeared weary and reluctant to take up more business. But still on the agenda was the loud and unruly party ordinance.

Curry suggested holding off on voting so the city could adjust the law's proposed fines and consult with some apartment and homeowners on the peninsula. Councilman Steve Rosansky and Henn said they were concerned that if they delayed the vote, it might not be in place long enough before the Fourth of July.

The council also voted 4-3 to ban gas-powered leaf blowers in residential areas. Rosansky, Ed Selich and Leslie Daigle voted no, contending that the law was poorly designed.

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