Brick Works under fire

Things are getting too rowdy lately at the Brick Works, the popular downtown live-music venue. So say local and state law officers, who add that they will be keeping a close eye on the club after a string of recent alcohol-related incidents outside the building at Second and Wall streets.

In the latest incident, on Thursday, Feb. 13, police arrested eight people for being drunk in public during a fraternity rush party being held at the club. Six of them were minors. This followed two other incidents, one on Jan. 31 and the other at an all-ages teen dance on Feb. 9, both involving drunken fights and resulting in arrests being made.

State Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Officer Carl DeWing on Tuesday called the number of police responses to the Brick Works in the last two months “an inordinate amount.” Police are required by law to report alcohol-related incidents to the ABC, DeWing said, and the agency sometimes intervenes if it’s deemed necessary. The Brick Works has recently become what ABC officers call a “disorderly house,” meaning the amount of recent police involvement has been unreasonably high.

“We are reviewing the number of police reports for that location,” he said. “We may take administrative action.”

The number of incidents it takes for an establishment to be deemed “disorderly” is not set in stone, DeWing said, because other factors are considered, such as proximity to residential areas and overall impact on the community. Though businesses have been shut down in the past for similar reasons, it is a rare occurrence, he said. No action has yet been decided on vis-à-vis the Brick Works, and the issue is still under review with the local district administrator.

Brick Works owner Rob Mowry said he is frustrated with the whole situation. “It makes the Brick Works look bad, it makes every bar in Chico look bad, and I hate that,” he said Tuesday.

He and his staff are taking measures to keep patrons under control and to minimize the need for police involvement, including paying stricter attention to wristbands and hand stamps, running regular parking lot patrols, and adding a miniature breathalyzer to the security arrangement at the front door.

But there is only so much that can be done to curb underage drinking, Mowry said.

“If the Brick Works doesn’t do underage [events], those kids will be getting drunk at a fraternity party or wherever,” he said. If they are going to get drunk anyway, he said, he would prefer they then g0 someplace such as a club, where medical attention and supervision are available.

“We’ve done an awful lot to curb the problems [police] have had on our nights,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair to be pointing the finger and saying, ‘This is a place that needs to be shut down.'”

For now, Mowry said, he is looking into private security to patrol the lot facing his club and will be meeting with police Feb. 20 to decide what measures to take to avoid future conflict.

Chico police could not be reached for comment.