Seafood Cafe LLC gets OK for changes to floor plan

Luis Farias with the Seafood Cafe LLC sits through a City Council hearing Tuesday as Porterville businesswoman Mary McClure takes a seat after speaking against the expansion of the cafe.

Despite heavy scrutiny Tuesday from both Porterville City Council members and the public, council members approved changes to the floor plan of the Seafood Cafe to allow for a multi–purpose room.

The restaurant, at the site of the former Olive Avenue Bowl, also operates as the El Reventon Night Club.

After two continued public hearings, Luis Farias, one of the owners of the Seafood Cafe, said he was happy to see the request finally meet with city approved.

“I definitely think we’ve gone above and beyond,” Farias said. “If that’s what it takes.”

The original request from restaurant owners to modify the existing floor plan and extend hours of operation first came before the council in December. During a public meeting in December, several people expressed concerns about noise and safety impacts.

Due to noise and safety concerns, restaurant owners later asked that the request for extension of hours on Sundays be considered as a separate issue and at a later date, according to City Planner Jose Ortiz.

The modification to the site’s Conditional Use Permit approved Tuesday allows owners to close off a portion of the existing restaurant to be used as a 274–square–foot multi–purpose room with a maximum occupancy, based on its use, of 11 to 24 people.

Owners of the Seafood Cafe and Rodney Martin, Tule River tribal administrator, have stated previously that the room may be the future site of a card room.

Ortiz clarified that approval of the CUP modification did not authorize use of the facility as a card room.

“The modification is only to the existing floor plan,” Ortiz said. “Approval of future use, specifically as a card room, requires a whole separate process through the Bureau of Gambling Control Commission and the Chief of Police.”

During TuesdayÂ’s public hearing, local business owner Mary McClure said she was not for or against the project, however she perceived a problem with the fire suppression requirements of the proposed CUP.

City Battalion Chief Loran Blasdell said the Seafood Cafe was currently in compliance with fire codes and any additional requirements would be associated with the anticipated second phase of development.

McClure tried to counter BlasdellÂ’s comments but her rebuttal came after public comment was closed and was not allowed into the record.

In addition to the site plan modifications, the council approved additions to the previous CUP replacing the original requirements of the project approved in June.

Community Development Director Brad Dunlap said, because of staff error, the original CUP did not distinguish which conditions pertained to Phase I and Phase II of the project.

“Staff from all departments have come together to see how we can prevent this in the future,” Dunlap said.

The owners of Seafood Cafe will have 60 days to complete specified requirements of Phase I of the project, including landscaping and parking lot improvements.

The resolution allowing modification of the floor plan for the Seafood Cafe was passed 3–0 with Mayor Cameron Hamilton and Mayor Pro-tem Felipe Martinez abstaining.

-- Contact Sarah Elizabeth Villicana at 784-5000, Ext. 1045, or svillicana@portervillerecorder.com.

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