San Jose Mercury News:
The Cats restaurant and bar — a landmark of sorts for Santa Cruz-bound drivers because of its prominent presence along southbound Highway 17 — has been fined $77,500 for allegedly providing late-night live adult entertainment indoors and violating other COVID-19 public health orders, according to Santa Clara County records.
Documents recently obtained by this news organization reveal that the owners of The Cats breached county zoning and business regulations as well as health orders by offering indoor services and live entertainment, specifically adult entertainment, without a permit from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
The county’s zoning code defines an “adult entertainment establishment” as one that features “topless or bottomless dancers, strippers, or any entertainers regularly displaying specified anatomical areas for observation by patrons or customers.”
The Cats is located in an unincorporated area at 17533 Santa Cruz Highway near Los Gatos, so it falls under the county’s jurisdiction and laws.
Adult entertainment venues are outlawed in most areas of Santa Clara County and require a permit in the few places where allowed. The Cats is in a zoning district where adult entertainment is prohibited, according to James Stephens of the county’s code enforcement department.
County officials said they received several complaints during the winter about an “unlawful operation” at The Cats. They said they made multiple unsuccessful attempts by phone and email to contact the restaurant and issued a warning letter before eventually visiting the establishment in person.
Because the business allegedly failed to correct the violations and submit a compliance statement within an allotted 72-hour grace period, fines totaling $77,500 were issued.
“During the inspection, you confirmed to me that your business facility allowed indoor operation and live entertainment (you claimed it was live-streamed and that individuals were not watching it in person) at the Violation Address after 10:00 p.m.,” a code enforcement officer wrote in the notice to The Cats owner Aaron Crites and property owner Mark E. Edwards.
When asked by this news organization to clarify what kind of “live entertainment” was offered, a county spokesperson simply classified it as “adult entertainment.”