Capitola: Depot Hill neighbors divided on Fourth of July party

Rift divides Depot Hill neighbors
By Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel


CAPITOLA >> Neighbors are fighting over a block party on Depot Hill, a Fourth of July tradition for 24 years.

The squabble became public when Depot Hill residents showed up at Thursday night’s Capitola City Council meeting.

Sammy Roye, co-founder of the Santa Cruz Beach Cowboys, said the group planning the party wanted to have music outdoors at Monarch Cove Inn for five hours on the Fourth of July but “neighbors plan to flood police with complaints.”

He described the party as a family event that had never caused a problem.

He said the party would go on “but it will be unfortunate if we don’t have music.”

Neighbor Stan Ketner said he had donated a bounce house to the party in the past but would not do so this year.

He contended the Monarch Cove Inn, which has submitted plans for a major expansion, has an expired 2001 permit and that weddings at the venue were not complying with the guidelines in that permit on attendance, no amplified music, and the 6 p.m. curfew for events.

“Who’s supposed to be regulating this? The police? Staff at the city?” Ketner said, asking for reconsideration of the permit.

“We need to get it straightened out ahead of time,” said Councilwoman Stephanie Harlan, noting that Monarch Cove Inn’s permit does not allow live music at weddings.

Mayor Sam Storey asked if staff could talk with neighbors to see “if they can work out a mutually agreeable arrangement” for one day.

“We’re happy to give it a shot,” said City Manager Jamie Goldstein, noting that issuing a permit (for the music) was a problem.

Police Chief Rudy Escalante explained that the event started out as a block party, then moved to Monarch Cove Inn, which has an outdoor deck, but the inn’s permit does not allow live music.

“I can’t issue a permit in conflict,” Escalante said.

He said the party planners have requested an amplified music permit for a party at a private residence, which he plans to approve and then monitor for noise and parking problems.

This could result in the party being split between two locations, which was not the case in the past, Escalante said.

Councilman Michael Termini said he was disappointed that over the Monarch Cove Inn project, there should be “a backlash against something that’s been a tradition in our city for a long time …”

Escalante said police evaluate party situations and try to mitigate problems with the hosts.

“We let them know when we’ve had a complaint,” he said. “If it’s a serious concern, we’d shut it down.”

Councilman Ed Bottorff asked, “So it’s a judgment call?”

Escalante responded, “Yes.”

When asked if the Monarch Cove Inn permit is in fact expired, Goldstein said it was hard to say.

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