Bands go back on at The Kraken

Live music on July 23 returned to The Kraken amid a dustup over noise citations.

The Kraken on July 21 announced via its Facebook page it was canceling live shows through the end of the month, claiming needless city fines threatened its liquor license. But the bar reversed course two days later, citing the support of a petition calling for live music to continue. More than 1,300 people signed it.

“People want the music at The Kraken to stay, that’s very apparent,” said Beth Levy, The Kraken’s music coordinator.

Levy said Kraken fans have bombarded the city with phone calls and emails. A July 23 update on the petition page states the city “has heard our cries” and live music can continue.

But city Planning Director Jeff Murphy said the city didn’t order The Kraken to stop live music — nor resume it. Owner Ron Crilley made the call to do so, he added.

“That was his business decision to stop and continue,” Murphy said.

Crilley could not be reached for comment.

The city in recent weeks issued warnings and then ultimately two citations — one for $100 and the other for $200 — after live music could be heard from The Kraken’s parking lot. The Kraken’s entertainment license says music shouldn’t be audible outside the establishment, Murphy said.

Crilley is working on renewing The Kraken’s entertainment license, and Murphy said the license could potentially be relaxed to allow some sound to waft outside. Murphy added it’s a balancing act considering some neighbors to the east of The Kraken, up the hill, have filed noise complaints in the past.

“We’re looking at if there’s a way to allow some noise to come outside, while still meeting our city noise standards,” Murphy said.

The Kraken, located at 2531 S. Coast Highway 101 in Cardiff, hosts music every night of the week. For many, it’s the go-to spot to listen to local blues bands.

Levy said Crilley opted to pull the plug on live music out of fear that more citations could lead the California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control to strip The Kraken of its liquor license. The city has been harassing the bar recently for no apparent reason, she added.

“There’s nothing at The Kraken that’s going on that hasn’t been going on for 39 years,” Levy said.

Murphy said city staff and Sheriff’s deputies stepped up code enforcement checks at bars over the last couple months. The effort is part of a proactive city program that launched last summer as a response to residents complaining about bars generating too much noise and litter.

Bar-related issues have been a hot topic locally in recent years.

Two years ago, the Encinitas City Council passed stricter performance standards for new bars, such as the requirement that they complete an operational management plan with noise mitigation strategies. However, a divided council later voted against a “deemed-approved” ordinance, a stricter set of regulations for all bars.

Levy said the outpouring of support for The Kraken has flowed from as far away as Europe.

“It’s a friendly bar at the beach with great live music — and people don’t want to lose that,” she said.