Pleasanton council set for hearing on ax lounge permit

Joining East Bay Community Energy, closed-session negotiations also on tap

The Pleasanton City Council is scheduled to host a public hearing Tuesday night on an ax-throwing lounge proposed to move in to a shopping center along Santa Rita Road.

The Planning Commission approved a use permit for Limitless Axes & Ales in a 4-1 vote on Aug. 14, but six days later Vice Mayor Karla Brown called for a full council review of the application from the new recreational game venue and bar, saying she'd fielded concerns from residents and business owners in the area.

City staff recommends upholding the commission's decision with the associated conditions of approval, according to assistant city manager Brian Dolan.

"As proposed and conditioned, the Planning Commission found that the proposed use would be compatible with, and would not detrimentally affect, the existing or future adjacent/nearby uses or residences, and that the proposed use will fulfill a community need and be appropriately located," Dolan wrote in his staff report to the council.

Aiming to capitalize on the growing popularity of ax-throwing as a hobby or evening-out activity, Michael Hill -- who also operates Limitless Escape Games in Livermore -- seeks permission to open Limitless Axes & Ales in the Valley Plaza shopping center, inside the tenant suites currently home to Monument Car Parts.

It would be the first ax-throwing lounge in the Tri-Valley.

Limitless Axes & Ales would occupy Suites A and B in the multi-tenant commercial building at the western edge of Valley Plaza, which is located at the northwest corner of Santa Rita Road and Valley Avenue.

In the 4,300 square feet, the lounge would feature seven throwing lanes, a bar serving beer and wine, seating areas, a lobby and restrooms. Each lane would be fenced in to prevent thrown axes from going into other lanes or elsewhere in the building.

There would be two throwers at a time, hurling the ax end-over-end toward different targets watched by a "coach," an employee who would provide step-by-step directions and safety oversight, according to city staff. A viewing area behind the lane could accommodate up to 10 people total.

The conversation before the commission on Aug. 14 centered on the proposed location, safety standards and operational strategy of the ax lounge, according to Dolan.

Hill presented to the commissioners about his operational plan for Limitless Axes & Ales and answered their questions about proposed safety standards and other topics, according to Dolan. The commission also heard from two residents of the nearby Danbury Park area who raised concerns about an ax-throwing lounge opening close to their neighborhood.

In the end, the commission voted 4-1 to approve the use permit and associated operational conditions as recommended by city staff, while also adding a condition limiting alcohol sales to two servings per patron per hour.

Commissioner Nancy Allen dissented, generally opposed to the lounge opening in a neighborhood shopping center (rather than, say, an industrial park) and the potential danger of the activity, especially when coupled with drinking.

City staff recommends approving the use permit as endorsed by the commission majority.

The council's open-session meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the council chamber at 200 Old Bernal Ave.

In other business

* The council will discuss the possibility of opting into East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), a community choice aggregation program of municipalities in Alameda County that purchases or generates electricity for their residents and businesses, including from sources other than PG&E.

The joint powers authority (JPA) was formed in October 2016 among the county and all cities except Pleasanton and Newark, with the Pleasanton City Council taking a wait-and-see approach and asking city staff to return with a recommendation after EBCE operated for one year.

That first year in operation wrapped up during the summer, and city staff suggests the council authorize starting the process for Pleasanton to join EBCE by 2021.

* The council's seven-item consent agenda includes the second reading of the new massage ordinance, authorizing the speed limit on Independence Drive to decrease from 30 mph to 25 mph, and accepting a $500,000 donation to the city's library fund from Workday Inc. and the Workday Foundation.

* In closed session beginning at 6:30 p.m., the council will meet with City Manager Nelson Fialho to talk about labor negotiations with city management and confidential employees who are not represented by a union.

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1 person likes this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 17, 2019 at 3:40 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

The EBCE vote is more important than the ax-throwing lounge. EBCE is just more government cousin's bills in Dublin rose noticeably because he didn't pay attention to the opt-out card that was sent to him which looked like junk mail. Do your research before you accept this government program. I'm hoping Pleasanton and Newark are still smart enough to stay out of this government over reach.

Like this comment
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 17, 2019 at 3:43 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

Sorry, I forgot. EBCE will automatically enroll you in the program once the city council approves. Your only choice is to opt-out. At least your only choice was to opt-out but that may have changed.

3 people like this
Posted by Manfred
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2019 at 6:22 pm

We really need to have another meeting on the axe lounge? Is this something that will cause great harm to our community? These things are all over the place; I travel for work and have been to a few. Very fun and I saw no issues with safety. Employees are on watch. But hey let’s keep the options for fun to a minimum in this town...

2 people like this
Posted by Lifeless
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Sep 18, 2019 at 9:44 am

C'mon Manfred, we can't have bars near where people live, especially axe throwing bars? What if an ax misses the target, goes through the protective backboard, goes through the wall of the building, goes through the concrete wall of the neighboring apartment complex, then through the wall of someone's apartment????

Move all of this fun stuff, to other towns where no one from Pleasanton would be in danger of having a good time.

Like this comment
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 18, 2019 at 11:19 am

James Michael is a registered user.

City Council approved both Ax Throwing Lounge and joining EBCE. And if you watched the podcast it pretty much looked like a done deal on both issues.

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