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A proposed private organization called the Leucadia Club, would like to open at Leucadia Plaza, drawing protests from some residents. It’s due to go before the Planning Commission March 6. Photo by Jared Whitlock
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Private club looks to open in Leucadia

ENCINITAS — Various rumors have pegged the private group Leucadia Club as a political think tank, a strip joint or even a religious cult. But those and other pieces of gossip aren’t true, the club’s organizers say.

Members want to open Leucadia Club at 828 N. Coast Highway 101, and they maintain it will be nothing more than a mellow hangout spot for career-minded professionals.

The club, which is invite only and requires a monthly fee, looks for members who can carry insightful conversation and have demanding, global-oriented careers, among other traits, according to materials they’ve produced.

“Encinitas hasn’t seen a private social club like this,” J. Alfred Dichoso, associate planner with the city, said. “So people have questions.”

Three months ago, organizers mailed the materials to nearby residents to try and clarify their intent with the club.

However, some neighbors still fear a frat housetype of atmosphere taking root near their homes. They’ve said they plan on opposing the project during a March 6 Planning Commission meeting.

For the club to move into the location, the commission will have to approve a minor-use permit.

“Neighbors are worried and the club representatives have shrugged us off,” said Barbara Kubarych, who owns property near the location.

And Kubarych believes some residents have been reluctant to speak out because their neighbors, friends and business associates might belong.

Minor-use permits are typically a staff-level decision. However, an influx of calls and emails to the city relating to the club kicked it up to the Planning Commission.

When organizers first introduced the club to neighbors last summer, documents stated it would have 40 members.

More recently, the group has said the ranks could eventually grow to as many as 110 members, though membership would most likely hover around 75, with a limited number of guests also allowed.

“They changed their story,” Kubarych said. “It’s concerning because the last thing we want is a party pad with so many people.”

But Charlie McDermott, who is the vice president of a pharmaceutical company and on the club’s board of directors, said partying just isn’t the club’s aim.

“Most of us are married,” McDermott said. We’re not out to tear it up and party — all these accusations are very far from the truth.”

McDermott said the club, a nonprofit, would simply give members a chance to kick back, enjoy good conversation and toss around creative ideas. Watching TV, playing pool and listening to guest speakers — not wild parties — are in the cards, he added.

The club’s inspiration comes from the Longfellow House, an intellectual commune near Harvard University where notable leaders, poets and authors once gathered.

“We want to continue the spirit in Leucadia,” McDermott said, adding that Australian surf clubs, where locals stash their boards and hangout, are another influence.

He noted Leucadia was chosen because many of the members live in the community.

The club is looking to lease a 1,900-square-foot space, surrounded by businesses like Pandora’s Pizza and Progression Surf. It’s likely to generate less traffic than a small restaurant, according to the club’s materials.

Tim Calver, who lives directly behind the proposed club, believes it will exacerbate existing neighborhood problems.

A narrow alley separates his home and the club. He said the alley already faces flooding and parking issues, and a swarm of club members’ cars could block emergency access.

The alley behind Leucadia Club. Neighbors worry about the club making alleyway problems worse.
The alley behind Leucadia Club. Neighbors worry about the club making alleyway problems worse.

Calver is also worried about noise wafting from the club.

“For a club of this magnitude to go in would be irresponsible and reckless on behalf of the city,” he said.

Dichoso said the club’s application and the alleyway are viewed as separate matters by city staff. But he noted it’s possible the Planning Commission, when reviewing the permit, could look at the club’s impact on the alley.

If the commission approves the permit, it will consider limitations on the club.

One proposed restriction would forbid the club from renting out its space for outside events.  Dichoso noted a similar limitation was imposed on the Carlsbad Woman’s Club after it hosted large crowds.

Neighbors have also raised concerns about members having key-card access to the club during all hours.

While members have said they wouldn’t visit during off-hours, they could technically do so under the proposed permit.

Dichoso said the club’s hours would be 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

The occupancy limit would be 115 people, but only a fraction of members are expected on a given day, and at-large meetings aren’t planned.

If the city received enough valid complaints about noise or other types of issues, it could look at stricter limitations on the permit, Dichoso stated.

For now, its members wouldn’t be allowed to drink alcohol in the club, yet another neighborhood concern.

The club hasn’t applied for a beer and wine license, but it might do so down the line after earning the community’s trust, McDermott said.

“We had no idea we’d be put through this kind of scrutiny, put through this much paperwork — this many hurdles,” McDermott said.

“We want to put all these rumors behind us,” he added.


Paul W March 9, 2014 at 9:42 pm

At first, I thought the establishment of this club was much to do about nothing. After reading Mr. McDermott’s letters I realized this is much to do with arrogance and intolerance. I suppose that even the ignorant have a right to a club of to discuss how superior they are. We Leucadians should be pleased that they are all in one place so we can enjoy the rest of our town.

Susie W. March 7, 2014 at 8:05 am

Mr. McDermott,

I have been told by members that women are specifically prohibited from membership, which was fine with me since I really didn’t want to join. However, I find it deeply offensive when you say

” Members are selected because they are interesting, have done interesting things, and have a high social IQ”

and yet you prohibit females. This is very telling of how you view the women professionals in the San Diego community. How many of your existing 75 members are female?

Sidney Lanier March 3, 2014 at 5:37 pm

Mr. McDermott, that was one heck of an answer to the good doctor.

I’m normally pretty much a “live and let live” kind of guy, and have no problem with private clubs, but your attitude – one which I can only say seems to range from “entitled” to snarlingly hostile – is not acceptable.

As a resident and property owner of the city of Encinitas, I’ll be opposing your effort to open your Exclusive Super Secret Social establishment. Not because you might not let people in. But rather because, if you’re an example of the kind of people that will be members, well, frankly, you’re the kind of people we need less of in this town, and I see no need to help make you comfortable here.

Charles McDermott March 1, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Dear Dr. Lorri,

The LC is compliant with all non-discrimination laws.

You have to be invited by a board member to be able to join and we are not accepting applications from the public in light of the number of spaces that we are likely to be allocated in the permitting process.

We do not take into consideration any of the attributes that you have listed above because we do not consider those to be relevant criteria for our the LC.

Members are selected because they are interesting, have done interesting things, and have a high social IQ.

The fees and other club specific information are private.



Dr. Lorri March 1, 2014 at 11:26 am

Mr. McDermott: Will this club be open to all people, including, but not limited to, women, minorities, all religious affiliations, the LGBT community, or will it be just a men’s club? What are the fees to join and what exactly are the features of being a member. Thank you.

Charles McDermott March 1, 2014 at 6:35 am

The LC has responded to Barbara Kubarych’s many accusations and complaints and has conducted numerous one on one discussions, mailings, and held an open house to answer legitimate concerns by neighbors.

Barbara resides in Del Mar and owns rental property in Leucadia; while many of the LC founders live in Leucadia and are the local community. Based on my interactions with friends and neighbors the response has been positive.

This initial application is only to enable us to open our doors and we will not be allowed to sip a single glass of vino to celebrate as we will not have a beer and wine license.

To provide further clarity we are leasing space within a multi-tennant building and are not responsible for or authorized to control street flooding, crime, or loitering.

However, there will be one less vacant storefront and the LC will be frequenting the local surf shops, yoga studios, coffee houses and restaurants and will also be getting involved in many community events.

Barbara Kubarych March 5, 2014 at 6:40 pm

In response to Mr. McDermott, please note that I have not made accusations or complaints but have asked questions which the LC did not want to answer. There was one mailing (not “numerous”) as required by law, and my husband, son and I had one face to face meeting with Patrick Armstrong of the LC, who said he would get back to us regarding a list of questions and concerns that was put together after a neighborhood meeting. However Mr Armstrong never did get back to us, and once local residents visited with the City Planning Department, where we saw that the plans for the space included flat screen TV’s, a pool table, bar etc, as well as other inconsistencies between what we were told by Mr. Armstrong and what was in the actual paperwork with the City, trust was damaged. Patrick Armstrong, the only contact we have ever had with the LC, stopped returning phone calls and responding to emails, and held a meeting with the neighbors only at the request of the City Planner, a meeting which took the LC a month to schedule and which residents were given 4 days notice of, insuring a poor turnout of residents, who, like the LC members, also have other commitments and obligations. At that meeting some things were clarified, such as that the LC was aiming to have not 40 members as originally stated, but 110, that the LC was NOT going to engage in community service as originally stated, that the LC intended to host events and most of all, that the LC really did not care or wish to take responsibility with regard to the impact a predominantly male private social club would have on the immediate residential neighborhood.

I do not speak only for my family but for many neighbors who feel pressured by LC members, friends and families and are not comfortable speaking out due to social and business pressures in small town Leucadia.

The fact that I live in Del Mar indeed allows me to speak up, because I do not have a personal stake in the social life of Leucadia. I do however have a stake in the community as a taxpayer and property owner, and because my son and co-owner lives at the property, which he has improved and expects to make his home for many years to come. We also take pride in being good landlords with excellent tenants in our rental units, who we believe are entitled to a safe, secure and quiet environment.

Additionally, word on the street is that Mr. McDermott currently resides in Boston, which is a lot farther from Encinitas than Del Mar is!

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