COOS BAY — Based on what Coos Bay Police Chief Gary McCullough describes as a "large number of incidents" involving alleged sex abuse, drugs, fights, disorderly conduct and minors at the Sky Bar, the popular night spot might not be allowed to renew its liquor license.
At the recommendation of McCullough and based on documentation provided, Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock has recommended denial of Sky Bar's liquor license. The bar is located at 158 Central Ave. in downtown Coos Bay.
The matter will be discussed at Tuesday's City Council meeting starting at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Myrtlewood Room of the Coos Bay Public Library, 525 Anderson Ave., but will be live-streamed on Facebook and available via Zoom if pre-arranged.
Sky Bar business owner Skylar Arment has requested an appeal of the decision before the City Council.
Craddock asked the council to review the information provided about the ongoing issues at Sky Bar and make a decision on Tuesday.
In May, the owners of Sky Bar LLC submitted a 2020-21 liquor license renewal application.
"A review of the records available to the Coos Bay Police Department show information which may prohibit, in the interest of public safety, the approval of this renewal license application," Craddock wrote to the council.
The information reveals that from February 2019 to March 2020, law enforcement received or responded to 24 separate incidents at the Sky Bar. This included alleged sex abuse, female(s) who reported being drugged while at the bar, visibly intoxicated individuals (one of whom was transported to the hospital), altercations (fights, assaults, disorderly conduct, disputes, etc.), minors found in the bar who were allegedly being served adult beverages (one of whom was allegedly unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon) and alleged theft and criminal mischief.
"As the bar (has) been closed since March 23, 2020 under Governor Brown's Executive Order related to COVID-10 restrictions, it could be assumed there could have been more reported incidents," Craddock wrote.
"This is an unacceptable number of calls and is certainly significantly out of proportion to calls for assistance at other establishments in the City with liquor licenses," Craddock wrote in a letter to Arment on June 16, informing him that he was going to recommend denial of his Oregon Liquor Control Commission renewal license.
While the owner could have reopened business in May, it still remains closed, after building officials learned that the owner (or persons under his control) were allegedly making unlawful structural alterations to the building and had unlawfully been removing and disposing of materials containing asbestos.
On May 27, the Coos Bay building official issued a "stop work" order, which was posted on the entrances of the building. Such an order restricts individuals from entering the building without the approval of the building official. On June 10, the building official stopped by and find workers in the building, despite the stop work order, and prior to having a licensed hazardous material contractor remove all of the loose asbestos-containing material.
"To this date, the bar owner has yet to submit permit applications for structural and mechanical repairs, (and) he has had a licensed hazardous materials contractor remove the remaining asbestos containing materials," wrote Craddock.
Currently the bar owner is facing enforcement action from both OLCC and the Department of Environmental Quality.
"My staff as well as OLCC inspector Whitmer have met with Mr. Arment and his staff on a couple of different occasions to discuss the issues at his business and police responses necessary to mitigate the issues," Chief McCullough wrote in his report to the City Council.
"Each and every time we were told that he has been working to limit the issues. However, the number of calls to the Sky Bar remain consistent and increase at times," McCullough wrote.
The city is concerned about the safety of renovating the historic American Building, where Sky Bar is located.
"... The last thing the City of Coos Bay wishes is an incident similar to what has occurred across the United States where a public building has collapsed, causing deaths to hundreds of patrons because of unpermitted structural work done to buildings," McCullough wrote.
In a letter dated June 22 addressed to the Coos Bay City Council, Arment apologized several times, saying he has had staffing issues and that the club scene was "not what I expected. We were good in the beginning, but 2019 was rough."
"As far as the remodel, we had someone who (we) thought we could trust, they have been let go and my apologies if they have stepped out of bounds," Arment wrote, adding that he removed parts of the floor because it was rotting and he found traces of mold coming up through the carpet, which was a health detriment to staff and customers.
"We had no idea there (was) asbestos and once we saw it, we stopped all work on the floor," wrote Arment and included a certificate proving the asbestos had been safely removed by Arcadia Environmental, a licensed asbestos removal contractor.
Arment said he hired contractors to do the kitchen redesign and remodel and "made it clear that all necessary permits need to be filed with the city to ensure the safety of the staff and customers."
Arment said he has since taken a more proactive approach to getting things done.
"Obviously, things weren't getting done properly and for that my apologies," he wrote. "We are also converting it more into a restaurant to change the image of the establishment. No more final destination and no more dumping ground for drunks. I hope the city council will see the necessary steps we are making and see the vision we are implementing."
Arment ended his letter promising to "do better."
Craddock said the council has several options, including overturning his decision to recommend denial to OLCC, affirming his decision or asking staff to consider revoking or suspending the business license issue to Sky Bar, which will cause suspension of his OLCC license.