Police examine collapsed stage
Police examine the area where the stage collapsed in the Miramar warehouse. Courtesy OnScene.TV

The San Diego City Attorney’s Office filed a civil enforcement action Friday against both a property owner and the organizer of a New Year’s Eve warehouse party in Miramar where a makeshift stage collapsed, injuring several people.

The lawsuit alleges property owner Bradley S. Murray and party organizer Charles Clayborne Smith maintained a public nuisance, engaged in unfair competition, and committed several violations of the San Diego Municipal Code.

The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties and a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction preventing the men from maintaining a property in violation of state and local laws.

The action stems from a New Year’s Eve party that occurred at 7574 Trade St. and allegedly drew hundreds of revelers. The “New Year’s Rave 2021” charged admission ranging from $10 to $25 per person and was set to take place until 3 a.m.

At about 10:20 p.m., a balcony collapsed beneath the weight of people dancing upon it, crashing down onto others below. Three people were hospitalized and several others were also injured, according to the City Attorney’s Office, which said the mezzanine was found to be constructed using substandard materials and was not designed to hold live weight.

“These defendants jeopardized the safety of attendees by permitting dancing on a poorly constructed mezzanine, and they’ve exposed countless San Diegans to COVID-19 by hosting what could be a super-spreader event during the most dangerous phase of the pandemic,” San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott said. “Our office took swift action to hold them accountable and let the public know that the city of San Diego will not tolerate conduct that imperils the health and safety of San Diegans.”

The action also closely follows an executive order from Mayor Todd Gloria calling for bolstered enforcement of local public health orders and fines of up to $1,000 for violations. The executive order was signed one day before the New Year’s Eve party.

“I issued the city’s executive Order to strengthen enforcement of public health orders to discourage situations like what happened in Miramar on New Year’s Eve,” Gloria said. “I commend the San Diego Police Department and City Attorney Elliott for acting quickly to hold bad actors like these accountable for doing harm and risking lives.”

The City Attorney’s Office alleges that since pandemic-related public health orders went into effect last March, San Diego police have been called to the property on numerous occasions for raucous events, despite such large gatherings being prohibited due to the pandemic.

Some of the events outlined in the lawsuit include large parties, wrestling events, a marijuana swap meet and a June concert that reportedly drew about 800 people.

— City News Service