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Music is still playing, for now, at The Jumping Turtle

SAN MARCOS — Live music at The Jumping Turtle restaurant bar was slated to stop Dec. 7, after the city of San Marcos served the establishment with an intent to revoke the its entertainment permit on Nov. 27. The Jumping Turtle appealed the city’s action. Live music continues for now, and a hearing at city hall is set for Dec. 17 to determine whether live music will continue.
The city’s notice to revoke The Jumping Turtle’s entertainment permit lists two noise violations, three failures to have an owner or manger on site during entertainment, one incident of an intoxicated person on the premises, and three counts of minors being present while alcohol was being served. Also listed were charges of operating a night club without a use permit, holding more nights of entertainment than allowed, charging a fee to enter, and four counts of not providing a schedule of entertainment to the city by the 15th of the month.
“They’re just trying to put us out of business,” Matt Hall, owner of The Jumping Turtle, said.
Hall has run The Jumping Turtle for seven years with few incidents. Then just before the entertainment permit was renewed in April, new restrictions were introduced that went into effect in July.
Hall has opposed new restrictions that limit entertainment to two nights a week, no longer allow a cover charge to be collected, and do not allow persons under 21 to attend band performances.
The new limits do not sit well with Hall since the business was formerly allowed to stage entertainment six nights a week and featured young bands with performers under the age of 18 before 10 p.m., with guardians present. Patrons of The Jumping Turtle held two demonstrations to protest the new restrictions that no longer allow minors to perform on stage.
The city of San Marcos told Hall it had concerns with The Jumping Turtle before it gave notice to revoke the entertainment permit. It sited 137 police calls to the address of The Jumping Turtle in the past two years as reason for the additional restrictions. Hall looked into the charges and found only eight of them proved to be viable complaints against the restaurant bar. “Eight in two years is pretty good numbers,” Hall said.
Hall said The Jumping Turtle has had few problems and none of them involved minors. “Minors getting alcohol was never directly related to The Jumping Turtle,” Hall said. “The ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) has never been involved.”
Hall said the city has rigorously imposed the new operating conditions. He added that since July, sheriff’s officers have come in to monitor the restaurant bar more frequently and have harassed patrons.
The loss of entertainment hours, cover charge, and the young music crowd and their families has had a negative impact. Hall said business has dropped by 50 percent.
“It was clear since it started they want us gone,” Hall said. “A lot of the conditions are illegal.” Hall said that the city cannot legally stop them from charging a cover fee. He added that a cover charge helps control the crowd that comes in and draws a clientele that is more suited to the establishment.
Hall said he feels he is being forced out of business by the city. He filed a claim against the city Nov. 2, and sited harassment, nuisance, emotional distress, violation of civil rights, abuse of power, and putting the claimant in a false light. Hall said he might file a lawsuit if issues are not resolved and right now things do not look good.
Jenny Peterson, San Marcos communications officer, said the claim made by The Jumping Turtle has been placed with an insurance provider and the city will not speak on the potential litigation matter. The city has until Dec. 17 to reply to Hall’s claim — the same date the hearing is set to review the city’s intent to revoke The Jumping Turtle’s entertainment permit.