Quick Take:

Woodhouse Blending & Brewing has hosted multiple live music acts a week since it opened in 2020, earning it the Hip Hang Out of the Year NEXTies award in March. Now, after an anonymous complaint, the City of Santa Cruz has ordered all entertainment to stop until the business applies for an entertainment permit.

Woodhouse Blending & Brewing in Santa Cruz, once a site for live music multiple times a week as well as craft beer, has temporarily suspended all live music until further notice.

The business, located near the Sash Mill off River Street, received a complaint related to its live music performances, drawing attention to the fact that Woodhouse does not have the entertainment permit required to host such events.

Now Woodhouse’s use permit is under evaluation. Until further notice, no live music or performances of any kind are allowed outside at all, and indoor acts must be signed off by the chief of police.

Woodhouse co-owner Will Moxham had just left a meeting with the city’s planning department when Lookout spoke to him last week. At the time, he said he was confident that Woodhouse would be able to receive the permit to allow for live music acts. But he anticipated that it would take several months and could cost as much as $15,000.

Moxham admitted that Woodhouse knew that it did not have the required permit. “We’re definitely a little at fault, but we’ve been doing it for three years,” he said. When Woodhouse opened in 2020, it brought commerce and community to a previously unused junkyard in a neglected part of the city. Because of this, Moxham said he believes that the city turned a blind eye to any permit issues related to entertainment, until it received the complaint earlier this month. City officials did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. It’s unclear to Moxham who could have complained, because the brewery isn’t in a residential area.

2023 NEXTies

Woodhouse never applied for an entertainment permit, said Lt. Carter Jones of the Santa Cruz Police Department. But the police department doesn’t have the resources to pursue minor violations like this. “We typically only respond when it’s complaint-based,” he said. “As to turning a blind eye, I don’t agree with that.”

Jones was unable to confirm the number of complaints Woodhouse has received due to noise because, without an entertainment permit, those calls would have been rerouted to the city planning department. “If any business or organization has not applied, those complaints go to the planning department,” he said. “If they have an active permit, then those would be routed to me.”

Hosting live music began organically as a way for Woodhouse to draw in customers to the industrial area and support the staff during the pandemic. Over the past three years, its music scene has grown substantially; until recently, it hosted four to five live music acts almost every week, often as part of community fundraisers or festivals. In March, Woodhouse was honored as the Hip Hang Out of the Year by Event Santa Cruz and also hosted the NEXTies event.

Now, Moxham said he worries that a drop in business will negatively affect his staff’s income, a portion of which comes from tips. “We’ve already had a few slow days,” he said.

Moxham said city officials are supportive of Woodhouse hosting live music again with the proper permit: “They realize the music is a benefit to the community and they’re trying to push it through. Just bear with us. It’s going to take a few months.”

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Lily Belli is the food and drink correspondent at Lookout Santa Cruz. Over the past 15 years since she made Santa Cruz her home, Lily has fallen deeply in love with its rich food culture, vibrant agriculture...