One Love, one night only
On Friday, Oct. 2, One Love Club (212 S. 21st St.) hosted its grand-opening event, featuring live reggae from New Jersey-based Sensamotion and San Diego-based Stranger. But not all was irie — the night was cut short when the Colorado Springs Fire Department closed the club for a long list of fire code violations before L.A.-based headliners Fortunate Youth took the stage.
According to co-owner Jered McCusker, in an interview that took place earlier Friday, One Love Club has been "in business for about a month or two," starting before the Sept. 22 moratorium.
However, the owners apparentlty didn't quite dot their Is and cross their Ts. According to Capt. Steve Oswald, CSFD public information officer, they failed to file change of occupancy paperwork.
"One Love Club was contacted on the afternoon of Oct. 2, 2015 and advised of the change of occupancy process," he says. "They chose to proceed with opening their business without going through the proper process, thus violating the city's adopted fire code."
Though the previous occupant was a marijuana business — Green and Healthy Wellness, a medical marijuana dispensary set to reopen at 430 W. Colorado Ave. on a yet-unannounced date — One Love Club needed a different Certificate of Occupancy to reflect fire and zoning needs.
"Historically, fires at places of assembly result in large loss of life," Oswald says, mentioning such notorious fires as the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire of 1977, which killed 165; the 1980 fire at the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas, which killed 87; and most recently, the 2003 fire in Rhode Island during a Great White show, which killed 100 people. "In each of these fires, there were conditions that had significant impact on the fire's behavior, with inadequate exiting for timely evacuation."
How imminent was the risk of a high-casualty fire?
Oswald says it's hard to say, though he notes that the violations — over capacity limit, failure to provide proper exits and exit lighting, and incorrect number and type of fire extinguishers, to quote a few — were common in previous high-casualty fires.
One Love Club is closed until further notice, though McCusker hopes to re-open once he's compliant.
"We have every intention of working with the fire marshal and the fire department on these issues," he says. "I don't want to say too much, because I really don't know what direction this is going to go ... but this will take some time, that I do know."
This news is exactly what the city's cannabis clubs don't need to allay doubt that they're upstanding businesses before the Oct. 13 second reading of City Council's six-month moratorium ordinance.
But if McCusker can get the paperwork in order, One Love Club could be a Big Symbolic Thing in the quest for well-regulated toking spaces. If McCusker has the will and the wallet to see this through, then, well, Jah bless.