Update: The public hearing to consider the appeal has been postponed to Feb. 27.
DOWNEY – A downtown hookah lounge has hired an attorney as it appeals the Downey Planning Commission’s decision to modify its conditional use permit, cutting its hours and revoking its ability to host live entertainment.
Planning commissioners took the action Nov. 1, 2017, in response to reports that Hookah Hub, located at 8323 Firestone Blvd., was draining police resources due to fights, stabbings and gang activity at the location.
City officials also accused the hookah lounge of being in violation of fire and building safety codes, namely that the business illegally blocked the front entrance by installing a substandard security door.
Planning commissioners also displayed concern for “lack of responsible management of the business, management’s disregard of the approved conditions of approval, and the misrepresentation of the proposed business operations during the original public hearing.”
In addition to pulling its live entertainment privileges, the commission scaled back Hookah Hub’s permissible hours of operations.
In a letter announcing its appeal, attorney Benjamin McFadden said the sanctions would “effectively eliminate Hookah Hub’s business in violation of Hookah Hub’s vested fundamental right to operate a hookah lounge…”
The commission’s decision to modify the conditional use permit, McFadden added, was “in error" and "not supported by the evidence."
The City Council will consider the appeal at its meeting Tuesday night.
It’s not the first time Downey has had issues with a hookah lounge.
In December, the Planning Commission revoked live entertainment at Mosaik Hookah Lounge, located at 11029 Downey Ave.
Downey Police had been called to the hookah lounge 18 times since Nov. 13, 2016, for a variety of complaints, including arguments, yelling, fighting, theft, and drinking in public.
In addition to eliminating live entertainment at Mosaik Hookah Lounge, commissioners also raised the minimum age of customers to 21, prohibited outdoor loitering, and rolled back its hours of operations.
It’s not clear if Mosaik will appeal.