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No partying at Woody's Wharf

Council leans toward allowing the restaurant to open earlier but not to have later patio hours and dancing.

October 08, 2013|By Emily Foxhall

The right to party doesn't necessarily come easily in Newport Beach.

City Council members on Tuesday took a step toward denying Woody's Wharf its request to expand hours of operation and have dancing on Friday and Saturday nights.

On a 4-1 vote — with councilman Ed Selich dissenting, Mayor Pro Tem Rush Hill recusing himself and council member Leslie Daigle absent — the council asked city staff to return with a resolution that would allow the restaurant to open earlier, build a patio cover and operate under less strict valet parking requirements, but not to stay open on the outdoor patio until 2 a.m. or allow dancing indoors on the weekends.

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The decision affirmed residents' expressed concerns that the Balboa Peninsula establishment would threaten their quality of life if such changes were approved.

Before the vote, residents weighed in on the issue. Many said they were worried that Woody's Wharf was developing into a nightclub, which would not be in keeping with the peaceful and quiet character of the peninsula.

Others, however, said they considered the restaurant an icon and liked to maintain a social life within walking distance of their homes.

The controversy began in November when the Planning Commission approved extending the restaurant's hours and changing part of its parking requirement, according to the staff report.

But the decision did not satisfy all that Woody's Wharf wanted. The restaurant also sought approval at that time to allow dancing inside the restaurant and to remove the tables and chairs in the outdoor dining area.

The commission denied the requests and the restaurant appealed, according to the report.

Woody's Wharf offered to construct a patio cover to assuage any noise concerns. The awning would require a variance because of its proximity to the sea wall.

The commission approved both the variance and Woody's requests one year later, at its Sept. 5 meeting, according to the report. The decision cleared the way for removing tables outside and allowing dancing inside on Friday and Saturday nights until 2 am.

Councilman Mike Henn, acting out of what he said was concern for the quality of life of area residents, appealed this decision at the council's Sept. 10 meeting.

"I think they got it exactly, completely wrong," Henn, who represents the peninsula area, said Monday.

The owners contended that they were not wanting to change the way the restaurant has been operating. It opened in

the 1960's and changed ownership in 2002.

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