San Jose Pulls Plug on WET NightclubOctober 1, 2009 By: Bryan Bass
When a video of a brawl inside your nightclub gets posted to YouTube, you can probably expect a call from local law enforcement, and that’s exactly what happened to WET Nightclub in San Jose, Calif., last week. The San Jose Police Department revoked the license for the downtown nightclub after a temporary license suspension in July failed to rein in the rowdiness and video footage of the latest brawl ended up plastered all over the Internet.
According to local authorities, over the course of five months ending in April, officers responded to the club 49 times to deal with issues ranging from assaults, attacks with weapons, public drunkenness and liquor consumption by club staff and underage patrons. WET’s license was first suspended in July after four people, including a security guard, were stabbed at the venue. After seeing the video from a Sept. 7 incident online, police determined that owner Michael Hamod had failed to correct the problems that led to the initial suspension and decided enough was enough. Assistant police chief Dan Katz confirmed as much, telling the San Jose Mercury News: “We've given them plenty of opportunities. This isn't like one strike and you're out.”
As if the fight and viral video weren’t enough, investigators also found evidence that the club had been watering down alcohol and even pouring cheaper product into more expensive bottles. The city manager’s downtown coordinator, Lee Wilcox, told local media outlets that allowing WET to operate under these conditions would be unfair to other law-abiding nightclubs in the area. "The city is committed to a vibrant and exciting night life, and we have some great night life businesses in the downtown,” Wilcox told the Mercury News. “However, these businesses should not have their business impacted by one nightclub with a repeated history of violence."
Interestingly, local law enforcement was given this power in 2005, when an emergency ordinance was passed giving the police chief the ability to revoke licenses after a shooting at a local area nightclub known for a violent past. In nearby San Francisco, it’s also one of the sticking points in a nearly two-year long battle between the police department and the Entertainment Commission, which grants such licenses. Hamod had 10 days from the revocation to file an appeal to top cop Rob Davis; otherwise the decision becomes final.