Club Owner Alleges City Inspector Punishes Venues That Don't Use His Security Company

Categories: News

brick-mortar-yelp-eric-b.jpg
Eric B./Yelp
Brick and Mortar Music Hall
San Francisco's Entertainment Commission oversees noise and security issues at local music venues. It is the city body responsible for holding club owners accountable for excessive volume or unsafe conditions.

So it's odd, to say the least, that the commission's sole inspector, Vajra Granelli, has close ties to a local security firm. And club owners allege that Granelli has given them extra scrutiny -- including official citations -- if they don't hire his company.

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Vajra Granelli
Granelli claims that while he co-founded Yojimbo Protection Services and sits on the company's board, he receives no compensation from the firm and isn't involved in its day-to-day operations. Nonetheless, Granelli's name comes up under phone records for the company's official address. And on the professional networking site LinkedIn, Granelli appears to keep two profiles -- one as the inspector for the Entertainment Commission, and another as the "owner" of Yojimbo. Asked about Granelli, some veteran club owners said it's long been known that he has close ties to a security firm.

Granelli's responsibilities for the city include visiting clubs and checking that they are meeting the requirements of their entertainment permits -- that volume levels are being respected and security plans are being followed. That's brought him into conflict with Jason Perkins, owner of Mission club Brick and Mortar Music Hall, which is currently under pressure from the commission over neighbors' noise complaints. As of a Tuesday ruling, the club must end its shows earlier than usual and can't produce more than 80 decibels until it improves soundproofing.

A raft of neighbors showed up at Tuesday's hearing, most of them saying they supported the club but didn't want to be forced to hear its shows inside their living room. But Perkins is convinced that his problems stemmed from his refusal to outsource Brick and Mortar's security to Granelli's firm. He says the problems began last fall, after he declined Granelli's repeated urgings to hire Yojimbo.

"I think if I hired his security company we would not have had one complaint," Perkins says.

Other club owners, speaking off the record, report similar occurrences. One says Granelli referred him to a partner at Yojimbo to hire security for a nightclub. The owner hired the firm, but soon found that it was too expensive. After he replaced the firm, the club began getting noise and security citations from Granelli, according to the owner.

"The reason why clubs hire this person is because they [the entertainment commission] leave us alone," he says.

Another club co-owner says he hasn't felt any pressure for not hiring Yojimbo, but did get a recommendation for the firm from Granelli.

"He says, 'Hey, if you're looking for one, I have a company,'" the owner says.

Granelli flatly denies all of this.

"We can't suggest security companies, we can't suggest sound companies," he says, insisting that he hasn't put additional scrutiny on clubs that didn't hire Yojimbo.

Nonetheless, Granelli's ties to Yojimbo appear to violate the Entertainment Commisson's official "Statement of Incompatible Activities."

"No officer or employee may engage in an outside activity (regardless of whether the activity is compensated) that is subject to the control, inspection, review, audit or enforcement of the Department," the document reads.

Yojimbo's website says it's available for work in "nightclubs/entertainment venues," listing the Regency Ballroom, Asia SF, and Bruno's as clients.

Asked about the issue, Entertainment Commission Executive Director Jocelyn Kane says she knew about Yojimbo, but didn't think its employees worked for local clubs. She viewed the issue as a distraction from the ongoing complaints about excess noise at Brick and Mortar.

"This is not about someone else's agenda," she says. "This is about neighbors who can hear [the club] every time there's a show."

-- @iPORT



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52 comments
2true415
2true415

here is the post that I put on Brick and Mortar's facebook page that I was quickly deleted from and blocked.    


    • I can't handle this anymore and have to let you guys in on a few details. Although this guy Granelli sounds like a real slime bag, Brick and Mortar being shut down is because Perkins refused to sound proof if venue up to the standards set forth by the citizens of San Francisco. He does have neighbors and for two years we have all been willing and open to working with him to get this sound problem under control. Not once did he enter any of our apartments to hear the sound for himself. 

    • $50,000 may seem like a lot of money, but in the night club world, that's chump change when it comes to sound proofing. None of the Northern Mission residents  want Brick and Mortar shut down, we just want him to fallow the noise regulations like everyone else is expected to. For some reason, Perkins doesn't want to address the fact that his sound proofing was anything but effective, his bullying tactics of threatening his neighbors was really shameful and now this huge smoke screen of a scandal in city hall, which although is probably true, is really not the cause of his problem. Instead of transferring the blame, let's use this energy to solve this problem and get Brick and Mortar up and running,...just freaking properly soundproof your building and hire a proper security staff. Don't use the company proposed by the sleazy commissioner, there are plenty of other security companies in the city

torn
torn

I am curious about who the other clubs are that will be coming forward.  When I first heard of this story I thought perhaps there really was corruption, now that I'm hearing the other side I'm thinking this Perkins' guy is just a finger pointing cry baby.  I mean, it sounds like the neighbors were legitimately upset.  Perhaps I'll come back around when he comes out with these other clubs he's referring to.  I wonder if they'll be the other clubs that he owns, I hear he's got a few around the city, does anyone know which ones those are?  Jason, who else will be coming forward?  And when? What's the delay?  

James Teets
James Teets

That's nothing compared to the bullshit going on in the building dept.

sexyadela
sexyadela

Im glad someone is implementing the noise code thing. I live next door to Dr Teeth & the Electric Mayhem them people have to go. They operate a patio party 7 days a week that have the people living next to them about to jump their asses. They are nasty and inconsiderable to say the least; they have no respect for humans quality life and none acknowledgement for immigrants. You would think that with their attitude they be all cover up. The truth is that they have no licenses to operate that party and are only allowed to use less than half of the space they use outside. The Mission is changing to become another white expensive sorry place in our beautiful city.

Enlightin Won
Enlightin Won

nice work SF city government, your corruption rating has increased 117 points

AlexD
AlexD

This Granelli guy seems like a real piece of work. I'm a regular at the Brick & Mortar this past few years and really hope these noise complaints get taking care off. Over the past few months the inside of the club has looked different every time I've attended. Obvious to anyone who's been a regular like me would of realized it was a sound proofing job in progress. Hoping this one gets figured out between the club & neighbors. As for this Granelli character looks like he's a few dodgy dealing going on. Hope he gets what's coming to him if these accusations turn out to be true.

Mitch Lopez
Mitch Lopez

Cue in crazy Obama haters. Wtf does that have to do with Obama. So many idiot trolls.

ejones
ejones

Brick & Mortar has been a great addition to the community. They often have free shows and the staff is always friendly when I go to the venue.

Why does the city have to mess with small business owners and cater to the deep pocketed tech companies?

Wasn't last week just SF Small Business Week?! Come on SF you can do better than this! 

emailusername
emailusername

"I think if I hired his security company we would not have had one complaint," Perkins says.

What does that mean?  How do security guards stop neighbors from complaining?

"The reason why clubs hire this person is because they [the entertainment commission] leave us alone," he says. Who says? 

Is "he" suggesting the Entertainment Commission, Alcoholic Beverage Control or SFPD would turn a blind eye? They work together and seems unlikely they would sweep neighbor complaints or violations under the rug because of who you hire.

塞繆塞繆
塞繆塞繆

At least they did not have to deal with nobama and the IRS!!!

randocalrissian
randocalrissian

First Mr. Perkins tried to blame his problems on the neighbors, claiming this was an act of gentrification against music and artists.  That didn't work, so now he's trying to blame this on the EC.  When that doesn't work, he'll probably blame it on the press.

randocalrissian
randocalrissian

There is video of the trial. Inspector Granelli clearly states that there have been no recent issues with security at B&M, and that security wasn't a problem, and that no additional security is needed.  Why would he say that if he was trying to push them to hire more security?  Also, the noise problems did NOT just begin last fall, they have been going on for TWO YEARS.  B&M got their first citation in February of 2012.

dobedobedoo
dobedobedoo

Hmm, I don't know much about Brick & Mortar's situation, but I can tell you I am aware that Vaj Granili takes advantage of his roll at the Entertainment Commission, and he has certainly pushed my friends who own clubs towards his security company. Plain and simple. He'll get caught if some of the other club / bar owners speak up. 

I've seen him first had shake down some folks really quite aggressively. Whether Brick & Mortar is guilty of sound violations is a different story, but it's safe to say Vaj is pushing his own agenda and business interests. Im quite sure you'll see more come out shortly from others about his corrupt agenda. 



axtx
axtx

this is one of many temper tantrums being thrown by the owner or brick & mortar after yesterday's hearing. because he was found to be in the wrong, he is now spewing lies to anyone and everyone who will listen. 

kbc123
kbc123

Conan....If you cared enough to go to the Entertainment Commission meeting last night, you would have seen "what neighbors". They were actually really thoughtful and reasonable and supportive of the club's existence, they just didn't want their walls rattling every night. This article is full of inaccuracies. Trying to manufacture a controversy and shiny object to point to in order to deflect attention from the fact that they can't deal with 2 years of noise complaints is shameful. And even more shameful that "journalists" take the bait and print a "story" without some work to get a balanced, honest view of what's happening. I am a lifelong professional musician, and usually the first person to side with a venue, but this is ridiculous. 

conan-neutron
conan-neutron

Massive misstep here.  There's a lot to unpack. But this: ""This is not about someone else's agenda," she says. "This is about neighbors who can hear [the club] every time there's a show."

Uh yeah, what neighbors? The ones under the freeway begging for change? Come on now. That's a stock answer that doesn't even apply to the situation.

This seems hinky as hell and I think there should be an ethics investigation into Granelli ASAP.

Jason Perkins
Jason Perkins

if any other clubs have this problem, please message me

jasonparish
jasonparish

people were scared to talk about this one - and when Brick & Mortar did, they got hammered

yeahwhatever
yeahwhatever

@2true415 ironically, security has not been an issue for B&M (and Granelli even said that in the hearing).  In fact the crowd at B&M is FAR more desirable than the crowds at places nearby like say Sloane or most other mission bars and clubs.  This is why we really want this to work out.  Good music.  Good crowd.    If they commit to being good neighbor everyone is thrilled to have them in the neighborhood.  (Even though Perkins likes to BS that it's HIS neighborhood)

yeahwhatever
yeahwhatever

@sexyadela if they're playing music outside without a permit they're subject to large fines.  Report them.  Although not sure what that has to do with white people.  The mission is far from becoming another marina.  You should look into what the housing commission does to promote the stability of low income housing and SROs in the area.  And then if you're not satisfied with those efforts maybe help them out.

Yesnomaybe
Yesnomaybe

@AlexD The real piece of work is Jason Perkins.  He claims this is "not about noise, it's about corruption."  Ha!  Tell that to the neighbors who've been complaining for two years!  Vajra was not in the picture at all until the community contacted him, not the other way around.  The neighbors asked for sound readings, he never approached anyone about such a thing.

Jason paints a very different picture than what has REALLY been going on for the past two years. It's easy to pull the wool over the eyes of people who are "against the system."  He says there wouldn't be any complaints if he used Vajra's security   I guess the neighbors wouldn't hear the music then?  Do Vajra's security guards absorb the sound that leaks out of that building?  If that's the case, then he's right.  But this has NOTHING to do with security no matter what he tells you.  Just ask the neighbors, who by the way, have been around long before this venue ever has.  I'm sure Jason is going to retaliate with another delusional comment. Whether or not Vajra is guilty of anything, it does not negate the fact that the neighbors have been dealing with their extreme noise for the last two years.

randocalrissian
randocalrissian

What community are you speaking of? Do you live in the North Mission?

yeahwhatever
yeahwhatever

@randocalrissian exactly.   And btw they only got their first citation in 2012.  The neighbors have had this issue long before that and it took Granelli months to even get that first sound reading.  Those complaints about the club come in weekly, yet Granelli has only managed to get over there about 3 times in the last 2 years.   IF Granelli had a grudge with B&M he could have come weekly and given them dozens more citations, costing B&M thousands more.  

jasonparish
jasonparish

@axtx what is a lie? That a city inspector owns a security company that has been hired by the very same clubs that he is regulating? facts are facts...inspector is crooked as hell


2true415
2true415

@conan-neutron 

The people who Brick and Mortar disturb reside in the (at least) ten huge residential buildings that are located to either side and behind B&M. You do know that sight and sound can work completely independent of one another, right?

yeahwhatever
yeahwhatever

@conan-neutron These neighbors live BEHIND Brick & Mortar.  I can attest to the fact that the sound reverberates through the back of the building and through the buildings on the north side of Woodward.  Almost all of them have been living there for many years before B&M came around.  Some of those folks affected have been living there for near 30 years.  These are people that range from families with children to night shift nurses, etc.  None of this has anything to do with Granelli.  His decibel meter does not have a grudge against Brick & Mortar.  The owner is also flat out lying on most of his accusations about how the EC hearing went down.  He admitted he has the citations.  There are email trails about the noise issues going back 2 years.  And btw, the club is in no way shut down. The only thing the EC did was cut back the noise limit temporarily until the club can pass legal sound limits INSIDE the homes of the neighbors.  This smear campaign by the owner is a diversion from the real issue, which is that he's breaking the law 3-4 nights a week, has known about it for almost 2 years, and hasn't fixed the issue.  You should see the "work" done on the skylights and vents.  It's pathetic.  If he really did spend the money he says he did then it makes him look even that much more idiotic.  The collection of neighbors that have this issue all want the club to survive, and it will.  The WERE NOT SHUT DOWN.  All this idiotic screaming by the owner is just him trying to blame anyone but himself for his problems.

LR12
LR12

@conan-neutron Conan, I know you personally (I can email you on facebook if you wish).  The fact is that Brick and Mortar has had multiple noise complaints from multiple neighbors over the past two years.  They actually do have neighbors, lots of them, and most of them have been unable to live normal lives since Brick and Mortar started.  All they want is to be able to sleep at night.  They don't want the place to close, on the contrary, they want it open.  They just want the sound to be controlled like it was in the previous venues at the same location.  This accusation is absurd.

yeahwhatever
yeahwhatever

@jasonparish yeah "Jasonparish"?  B&M got hammered when "they" talked?  You're TOTALLY a random person, and not the B&M owner, no way.

sexyadela
sexyadela

@yeahwhatever @sexyadela I;m sorry if I sounded odd when I said "white' I wasnt relating to people. I used it to describe what the neighborhood its coming to be. Im familiar with the Housing Commission I work for nonprofits. Im afraid that would happen here what happened to others areas like Polk or Haight Ive been in this city way to long. Thanks for your reply though.  

AlexD
AlexD

I can't speak on behalf of the neighbors as I don't live right next to the venue. But I can tell you that I've always had a great time there for sold out shows, not so busy shows, free shows and been treated very well. I've never witnessed any kind of trouble or police presence. Here's hoping the people of SF see sense and don't lose this charming venue. Get behind local music and work through issues with neighbors. After all we are living in a thriving city not a suburban nightmare at least not yet. I'm sure there is people that can agree with me on this (I hope :))

jasonparish
jasonparish

@yeahwhatever @randocalrissian"No officer or employee may engage in an outside activity (regardless of whether the activity is compensated) that is subject to the control, inspection, review, audit or enforcement of the Department,"


Pretty clear that this policy was violated

jasonparish
jasonparish

@LR12 @conan-neutron 

what is absurd is that a city inspector is allowed to run a side business flaunting city ethics and criminal laws. 

jasonparish
jasonparish

@yeahwhatever I am obviously the owner of the club and that is why I use my real name as I have nothing to hide...I am not a pathetic online coward who needs to disguise - that is why my REAL name and my REAL company name are front and center. Facts are Facts in this case. I'm just not scared of Granelli like everyone else. 

2true415
2true415

@sexyadela @yeahwhatever

What, did you mean, "I;m sorry if I sounded odd when I said "white' I wasn't relating to people. I used it to describe what the neighborhood its coming to be..." 

Did you mean that all the houses are painted white? Or that maybe only Barry White plays from the radio? Does it snow now in these neighborhoods? how does a neighborhood "turn white"  if you're not referring to to skin color?

kbc123
kbc123

@jasonparish @yeahwhatever @randocalrissian Or, the other option, is that you can just try to comply with the numerous sound complaints, like all the other good operators in the city, and your problems go away. Instead of the witch hunt that this is and it's pretty transparent. It just seems smarter to me to do it that way. But that's just my 2 cents. This is a diversion from the problem you have. Just fix the problem. Lots and lots of venues in SF have had to deal with this and do so without resorting to these tactics. You can get rid of Mr. Granelli, if that is your agenda, but the sound problems will remain. It's not going to get rid of your problem. This protects the larger industry and all the venues and musicians who depend on it.

yeahwhatever
yeahwhatever

@jasonparish Seriously, dude, who are the 4 other clubs alleging the same shakedown from Granelli?  How about even just one?  Give us a hint.

2true415
2true415

@jasonparish @LR12 @conan-neutron 


Fact: Your club was breaking the sound regulation by at least 35 to some nights 45 decibals.

Fact: You were disturbing the lives of your neighbors.

Fact: All the "sound proofing" you did was useless because it didn't fix the noise problem.

Fact: You threatened neighbors that spoke out against you. 

Fact: Your neighbors, even after all you have done to us, do not want to shut you down and even want your club to prosper... We just don't want you to do it at the cost of our peace and health. 


So please, explain what any of these facts have to do with the commissioner and his security company with the stupid name?  I think everyone would take you more seriously and you wouldn't look like such a douche bag if you would fix the problems that are waging war on your neighbors and then go after the commissioner.  You would be taken a lot more seriously by everyone, especially the DA.

jasonparish
jasonparish

@LR12 @conan-neutron OH..and also wait for the D.A. investigation and the Ethics Commission hearing. This is not about sound - this is about corruption


yeahwhatever
yeahwhatever

@jasonparish:  So that's why you use the third person talking about "they" as if you're someone else.  We'll either that or you're just really that unhinged.   

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