By Ashly McGlone
SAN LEANDRO -- The Historic BAL Theatre may now host up to 260 live events a year and seek a state license to serve alcohol after permit changes approved by the city's Board of Zoning Adjustments.
The approval Thursday marks the end of a multiyear dispute over the theater's grandfathered rights versus new city restrictions.
In 2011, the theater on East 14th Street was limited to four live events a month, or 48 a year, not including movie showings. While the city has allowed alcohol service onsite by nonprofit partners during fundraisers, the theater can now obtain its own license to serve alcoholic beverages, a process that can take three to six months, theater owner Dan Dillman said.
Dillman took ownership of the theater, built in 1946, in 2008 and hopes the expanded offerings will help the site become a "major entertainment hub for the Bay Area" and bring new development and restaurants to the area.
Aside from movies, the venue has historically hosted bingo nights, comedy nights, talent shows and performances by artists, including Juan Gabriel. Singer Tevin Campbell is scheduled to perform Aug. 9, and singer Jon B. is scheduled for Sept. 6.
"There is no other venue like the BAL theater in San Leandro," said Dillman. "There are some great concerts coming and some great live entertainment."
The permit had come to the board three times in 2013 and failed to get approval the first two times. Before it was approved Thursday on a 5-0 vote with one¿ member abstaining and one member absent, the board required the site be subject to an annual inspection and that emergency exit signs be added.
The permit also allows the Dillmans to continue using part of the site for a computer repair business.
"I think the city and the BZA want to see the BAL succeed and continue to be a valuable community resource," said Tom Liao, city planning and housing manager. "The expansion of hours and events and possible broader alcohol licensing, this will really help spur the business."
Performances will be allowed between 9 a.m. and midnight Sunday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Alcohol may be served from 10 a.m. to midnight, according to the city's conditions of approval.
Ashly McGlone covers San Leandro, San Lorenzo, San Ramon and the Washington Township Health Care District. Contact her at 510-293-2463. Follow her at Twitter.com/AshlyReports.