Santa Rosa officials have shut down a Piner Road business they say had been operating a teen nightclub without proper permits.
The city on Wednesday ordered the La Piñata kids party center to cease operations after it continued allowing a Rohnert Park man to throw teen dance parties in violation of its use permit, said Mark Setterland, the city’s chief building official.
The city previously had warned promoter Dane Woods that the “PinkDrift” dance parties he was running in the evenings at La Piñata were illegal.
Officials say La Piñata’s use permit was geared toward private parties for kids and their families, not for teen dance parties open to the public. Woods has been charging $15 admission for dance parties for kids 12 to 15 years old, and $20 for nights geared toward 16- to 20-year-olds.
“We’ve made it real clear to them they are not authorized for their PinkDrift parties and they continued anyway,” Setterland said.
Woods said Thursday he had canceled all future PinkDrift events and is considering whether to sue the city over what he says is unfair treatment he got at City Hall.
“I can promise you that this is not the end of it,” Woods said.
The city Wednesday morning issued a cease-and-desist order to vacate the premises. The orders applies not just to the PinkDrift parties, but also to La Piñata, which featured bounce houses, video games and a room where kids could open presents and eat cake and ice cream.
In September 2013, the city did allow La Piñata to extend its hours of operation from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. A few months later, the business sought the right to serve alcohol, but the city denied that request.
In addition to birthday parties for young kids, La Piñata also catered to teens, holding quinceañera and Sweet 16 parties. Woods saw his PinkDrift nightclub concept as a way to take those dance parties to a new level.
PinkDrift’s website and Facebook page promoted it as “The Bay Area’s Premier Young Adult Nightclub and Event Center.” It promised “10-foot dance cages” and a “video wall.” No alcohol was served, and the events had security.
But shortly before he was set to open in early June, the city found a stage and kitchen had been constructed without building permits. That triggered closer scrutiny by the city.
City officials say they consistently explained to Woods that the use permit for La Piñata did not allow the type of activities he was proposing. They told him he’d need to amend the conditional use permit for the property, a process than can take months.
Woods began holding his PinkDrift parties anyway in late June as the dispute simmered. Attendance has been light because of the permit uncertainty, and now he concedes the venture is doomed. “We’re dead. They killed us,” Woods said.
Senior Planner Bill Rose said he and his supervisors met with Woods on many occasions and tried to explain the process he would need to go through to get the permit he needed to operate legally.
“Some of this stuff is a little bit difficult to understand,” he conceded.
Woods, who says he has previously operated teen night clubs in Chicago, agrees the city was consistent about the need for the new permit, but claims its explanations for why have varied.
Read all of the PD's fire coverage here