BDO Code enforcement has told Big Daddy-O owner Art Pina he must comply with the county’s zoning ordinance and become a take-out only restaurant.

Silver Strand restaurateur fights to save popular business

Officials cite decades-old code

By Shane Cohn 01/10/2013



“No Morons Allowed” reads the sign at Big Daddy O’s Beach BBQ, a 22-year-old business on Roosevelt Boulevard in the Oxnard surfing community of Silver Strand.


Hit with a string of county zoning and code violations, the popular restaurant may be forced to close its doors to more than just morons.


When Art Pina bought the business more than two decades ago, it came essentially as it is now: a small kitchen and a converted dining room that seats about 20 people.


But last year, Pina received notices of violation from Ventura County Code Compliance Division that his restaurant was zoned for takeout only, and the entire dining room was, in sum, an illegal operation.


“If I had to go to takeout only, I would go out of business,” said Pina, adding that the bulk of his business is dine-in.


In 2002, Pina said, code compliance informed him that he needed to remove his patio furniture and, in its place, provide four parking spots or else he’d be subjected to fines. He complied. But the patio dining was a major attraction in sunny Silver Strand, where most of the clientele were local and the parking spots therefore unnecessary, Pina said. He and supporters in the community contacted then-Supervisor John Flynn about the issue. According to Pina, Flynn was sympathetic and told him he could reinstate his patio.


Ten years later, a code compliance officer showed up again and Pina was hit with additional building code violations. Public records show that in September of 2002, the property also received notices of noncompliance for non-permitted conversion of a takeout restaurant to dine-in, among other zoning issues.


Fines were issued, some of which Pina has been able to pay, but he anticipates it would cost more than $10,000 to bring the business up to code. Civil administrative penalties of $625 per day are being stayed until an agreement can be reached.


What baffles Pina is that there have been no complaints about his business. The violations stem from previous tenants, and now, suddenly, after more than two decades, he said, code compliance is throwing the book at him.


“So for 22 years you haven’t been doing your job?” said Pina about the code compliance division. “When I try to work with them, it’s one step forward, three steps back. It gets worse and worse with them.”


Jim Delperdang, director of Ventura County Code Compliance, said the issue isn’t as gray as it has been made out to be.


“He has a permit to operate a takeout restaurant,” said Delperdang. “But he has gone outside (to the patio), to the space next door (dining area). He’s gone to the press, to the community but is still in violation. He doesn’t think getting permits applies to him. But the answer is, ‘No. Rules apply to everybody.’ We’ve told him what he needs to do for operation compliance.”


Supervisor John Zaragoza is well aware of the issue and said that a Jan. 14 meeting is scheduled with his office, Pina and department agencies to remedy the pending issue.


“He (Pina) is an icon there,” said Zaragoza. “We want to help him as much as we can and bring him here, talk to him and make sure we’re all on the same page and how to help him comply. He does good work and we want to keep him in business.”


Oxnard Harbor Commissioner and Silver Strand resident Jason Hodge said that it should be an easy fix in favor of Pina because Pina thought he was legally entitled to operate the business as he purchased it. To force him to pay, he said, is an undue burden on Pina, and it is the outdated building codes that need inspection.


“The problem with these one-size-fits-all zoning and building codes is, they become outdated by 30, 40, 50 years,” said Hodge. “He was allowed to open a restaurant there 22 years ago. People have been born, gone to college and have had children since Art has been doing business in that location. And now, because of an oversight years ago, you’re going to potentially put somebody out of business who is a service to our community?”

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posted by Harold X on 1/10/13 @ 04:51 p.m.

Property rights reflect the value that the market places on land by virtue of its productive potential. In many similar jurisdictions all over the United States all parking should be located so as to have the least impact on neighboring property. Many jurisdictions allow for over-lapping use of parking. The simple truth about "Big Daddy O's" is that most people walk, bike or skateboard to enjoy great food while creating a huge sense of community.

In my extensive restaurant experience, Big Daddy O's should not only be afforded a defined patio space but it should also qualify as a restaurant that may also serve beer and wine. It is safe, well established and run with the kind of passion and heart that champions the community around it. I write this from Bozeman, Montana where as a father raising two daughters had no problem whatsoever with the facility, access to it, or how it was operated.

Interesting enough, I had to establish 120 parking spaces in a parking lot that had 367 spots for a restaurant/bar concept back in 1997. The parking lot was far bigger than the property dictated yet I had to perform and "Engineering Study" to establish "overlapping use." It was absolute political nonsense, but the rules are laid out to prevent abuse. With this, all business has "Black and White" rules creating a foundation. But as anyone from a Fortune 500, Fortune 100 or Locally Owned Business will attest...you must be flexible and treat each unique situation for what it is and of course meet each "challenge" where they uniquely stand.

If anyone from Oxnard Zoning is reading this, check for fire safety, check for adherence to County Health Regulations, but take a unique look at this fine establishment. Meet Art where he stands and help him to create a winning situation for a community that pays your wages and creates your job. I would argue to afford him a variance to establish a clear and concise property line for a licensed patio.

The economy is horrible and all Government Agencies should serve all good business, not hinder it.

Yours truly,

Peter Dean Bouloukos
Top100mentor@gmail.com

posted by Peter Dean Bouloukos on 1/10/13 @ 05:07 p.m.

"He doesn’t think getting permits applies to him."
And here is the problem with Mr. Jim Delperdang. He is taking it personally like a little child. Art does not think he is outside the law and a quick review of the situation shows this. So for Mr Delperdang to think that he needs to come down like a hammer on a popular business owner shows that he is out of line for the community he is supposedly serving. Art is not the enemy. I would suggest that a county employee who holds the community members in such disdain actually does more to sow community dissent then any parking issue ever could. Is Mr. Delperdang really interested in safety or is he now just trying to use the power of the state to enforce his own personal prejudice? I suggest the latter and that this man should have no business interacting with the community that he holds such contempt for. Mr. Delperdang...please take a hike outta town. You are not a good fit for the good people who live and work here. No morons indeed!

posted by Sacto43 on 1/11/13 @ 07:36 a.m.

Art is doing a fine job and is a fixture here in Silver Strand. Why discourage business in a place where many don't last long. Yet Art and Daddyo's have been around for 22 years.
It is a nice place to greet our neighbor's as well as a popular stop for tourists. It shouldn't be a "take out only" facility. It is located in the harbor which is part of the charm and not being able to sit in the large patio area makes no sense. Doesn't the City have something more worthwhile to focus on?

posted by calley on 1/11/13 @ 04:11 p.m.

“But the patio dining was a major attraction in sunny Silver Strand, where most of the clientele were local and the parking spots therefore unnecessary, Pina said.”

There are plenty of parking spots for Daddy O’s. There is public parking at Kiddie Beach and at the jetty. Customers can and do walk, in the sunshine, less than block to Daddy O’s. This isn’t a novel idea. This happens on Main St in Ventura, Santa Barbara, Manhattan Beach, in fact, all of California. We are a walk in culture and do not expect to park in front of an establishment or even near it.

Who’s next? The Watermark? Dargan’s? Pollo Norteno? Are they next? There are thousands of restaurants in California that rely on public parking lots (a few blocks away) to support their business? Why is Daddy O’s being singled out? Why now?

As for the locals, Daddy O’s is more than a restaurant. It’s affordable. We walk there. We bump into our old neighbors from Melrose to see if they got to keep their house, or our friends from Highland to see if they got to keep their job. Or Santa Monica, how did that cancer scare go. And so on. When tragedy strikes, when someone dies young, this is where you find the youth of Silver Strand planning a fundraiser and searching for meaning. Daddy O’s is not where we eat. It’s where we live. It’s where we commune. And we do so without cars and without complaints.

Now someone wants to take away a 22-year-old business. Why? For an outdated code? Daddy O’s has codes. Ethical ones. Everyone is welcome. Moral codes. Hungry kids occasionally eat free. Personal codes. Staff digging in their tip jar for needed change. These are the codes Art and his staff has enforced everyday for 22 years.

The public officials who take an oath to protect our communities are now hurting us. They are ignoring our needs as a community for an ulterior motive they are too cowardly to admit. This isn’t about a code that hasn’t been enforced for 22 years. It has to do with something else. A successful business that serves a community, in all economic climates, needs to be commended, not harassed.

posted by Wearethepeople on 1/13/13 @ 04:45 p.m.

The person who wrote the above comment is a professional writer with a deal with a studio. As such it comes from someone who is contributing daily to local business, taxes and coffers by buying ONLY locally, banking ONLY locally, etc. Trust me. I know her. This is an example of "local money recycling" and it is what has built and sustained communities for eons and recent decades (i.e., keeping money in the local community = the community grows), until big box retailers and macro-corporate interests began euthanizing small, niche, local spots/businesses like this one. Similarly, I am a business journalist and I suddenly have a heightened interest in this story. This looks like a perfect Occupy-style moment. There is community support around this issue and it carries potential for protest, as it should. Why? Because this is a classic example of squeezing out small businesses that build and contribute to the local community (think about it; Daddy O's provides employment for locals, contributes to economic vigor here, and builds/contributes to/sustains a sense of local community). Do you think this outdated ordinance would hold against a legal broadside (today, a simple email) from, say, a Wal-Mart or Starbucks seeking to relocate here? Of course not. Big business can fight such ordinances and win (often thanks in no small part to targeted regional political contributions). But not the "small guys." The truth is that people don't start small businesses anymore and don't contribute to their local economies by doing so precisely because of SITUATIONS LIKE THIS ONE. In an area that has proven difficult already to sustain entrepreneurs and local shops ... why would you KILL IT? It's time to relocalize our economies and we can all start by supporting businesses like Daddy O's when they face challenges like this. Zaragoza should be an advocate of this. If not, he's on the wrong side of history, evolving economic theory and the very locals he claims to represent. Oh, and by the way: You haven't lived until you've tried Art's biscuits n' gravy. Wait, the breakfast burrito might have it beat :-) Why not check it out for yourself and decide--both what your favorite menu item is, and what kind of community you want to live in. I sure would hate to have to get in my car (sorry auto industry), load up on gas (sorry Exxon), and drive south to LA County (sorry mall-hoppers) and contribute my hard earned money to some local eatery that seems to care about, contribute to and help build the local community THERE like Daddy O's does HERE. I'll do it, though (leave and spend m money outside Ventura County), if you take this away from those of us working professionals, locals, moms, dads and proud residents who love living and working here BECAUSE OF places like Art's. ~ BrianP/Birdman

posted by BrianP/Birdman on 1/13/13 @ 09:08 p.m.
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