Footloose in Northeast Fresno?

Business owners say they're banned from letting customers dance in just one part of town.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Dancing is the stuff nightclubs are made of. But places like HCK in Northeast Fresno are not nightclubs. Because of that, the city says dancing is not allowed.

"We do like to have our patrons enjoy our live music, our Dj's without the hassle of us or the police department stopping them from dancing," said Lewis Everk, owner, HCK.

Everk opened HCK at Champlain and Perrin nearly two years ago. He has worked as a nightlife promoter and marketer for close to 20 years.

"It's kind of a catch 22 as a business owner," said Everk.

He he s frustrated. He says he and other business owners in the area are stuck in the city's red tape when it comes to getting and following permits. "Everywhere you go there's dancing on this side of town. Is it permitted? No. Does it happen? Yes."

The permits, some business owners say, can cost well over $10-thousand and take more than a year to obtain. But city officials say adding dancing priveledges to an existing permit should take roughly 30-45 days and cost just over $3-thousand if paired with an acceptable business plan.

"We want to make every effort possible to make it easier for the customers to come in and do business with the city of Fresno, not be intimidated," said Mike Sanchez, Development Resource Management.

Sanchez says the process, handled on a case by case basis, is important to help all businesses co-exist peacfully. Public safety is also paramount.

Everk says he fears applying for a dance permit at his current location would be a waste of time and money as a rejection is almost certain. He says it's been suggested he just move to the Tower District or Downtown. But Northeast Fresno is where he wants to operate.

HCK has been cited for permit violations. Everk is fighting those. Police say citations happen only after several permit reviews and conversations.

Other owners have run into similar problems, but they declined to comment.

Everk says unless something changes, he and his business won't be around for long.

"I thought I'd be in Fresno for years, and at this point I want to live out my lease and move elsewhere," said Everk.
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