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San Marcos Teen Club’s Fate Is in Council’s Hands

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Stojan Mitich doesn’t want the curtain to drop on his latest enterprise--a San Marcos teen club, Nighttown USA. But, after two years of fighting with the city, the 27-year-old entrepreneur has to admit, “this place has never gotten off the ground.”

Mitich has been trying to turn the Nordahl Road nightspot into the “in” spot for young adults over 18, by drawing crowds that would rival the booze-serving Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, and by becoming the disco hub of North County.

But he blames the city for imposing stiff restrictions on him and his club, “harassment” by its code enforcement officer and opposition from a few neighbors.

Recently, the city’s planning commissioners revoked the special permit under which Nighttown is allowed to operate, and tonight the City Council will hear Mitich’s appeal of that revocation.

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“I had hoped to open this place as a concert hall. The biggest and the best in North County,” Mitich said of the Nighttown teen club. “I’d hoped that we could handle 1,000 people here.”

Instead, he said, he was forced to scale down his plans to a 600-customer disco but still keep a security force necessary for a 1,000-seat concert hall.

“And they have been after us, me especially, ever since we opened. They have been harassing us, deliberately lying about what’s going on here.”

Susan Hall, city code enforcement officer, has “written up” Nighttown at least seven times for failing to check IDs, for failing to close by 1 a.m., for a fight in the parking lot and for having too few security guards, he said.

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Mitich gathered letters of complaint from other San Marcos small business owners about Hall’s purported attitude to prove, he said, “that she is trying to drive us small guys out of town.”

He also filed a complaint with the North County NAACP, claiming Hall made a “racist remark” in one of her reports on club clientele who “looked like gang members (both black and Mexican).” John Carter, president of the group, said he would look into Mitich’s complaint.

Lt. Scott McClintock of the Vista sheriff’s station said deputies had been assigned to accompany Hall on her Nighttown inspections and to confirm her findings.

As for violations of liquor laws or indications of drug use at the club, McClintock said: “There’s been none that I know of. Just a few beer cans in the parking lot.”

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Paul Malone, San Marcos deputy city manager, said the city staff has recommended denying Mitich’s appeal and upholding the planning commissioners’ action revoking Nighttown’s use permit.

Mitich plans to counter with another proposal: Allow his father, Charles Mitich, to manage Nighttown; allow only customers between ages 16 and 21, and reduce the number of security staff from 15 to a more reasonable number.

During 1991, Mitich said, “the security staff outnumbered the customers half the time.”

“This is a real fine place, with hand-worked oak and custom glass and the best sound system. I got a light system like ‘Star Wars.’ It’s just like Las Vegas inside,” Mitich said. “What I’d really like to do is open up an adult nightclub.”

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Ironically, the city of San Marcos has granted him a permit to operate an adult nightclub, 21 and over, but the state Alcoholic Beverages Commission has turned Nighttown down for a liquor license.

Mitich is appealing the ABC ruling and hoping for the best.

“Maybe it’s time I grew up. I see my old friends from the old club (Escondido After Dark, now closed) and they are all grown up now and asking me when I’m going to open a club for them again.

“Maybe that’s the way I’ll go.”

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