Diego’s nightclub in Pacific Beach may be all the rage with the disco/video set, but its popularity also extends to the nightstick/badge set. Officer Gary Hill, who patrols the beach on the late shift, says arrests are common around Diego’s. Manager Michael Magnanti, as might be expected, begs to differ with the officer. “There’s only been two or three arrests inside the three years we’ve been open,” he says indignantly. “I got the vice-squad living in here, it’s practically their second home, and the cops harassing me outside. Come here at 1:30 in the morning if you want to see half the San Diego Police Department cruising in circles around the hottest nightclub in town.”
Though no statistics are available, Hill says that every one of the twenty or thirty cops on the northern division beat could nab a drunk driver leaving Diego’s. “We get a lot of drunk-in-publics, a lot of drunk drivers, a lot of cocaine arrests in the parking lot… a lot of urinating in public from the people standing in line waiting to get in,” Hill says. It got to the point where one officer, whom Hill won’t name, took it upon himself to start compiling a list, using police field interview slips, of certain citations in which Diego’s figured, such as those for being intoxicated in public where the perpetrator says he got drunk in Diego’s. This list, according to Hill, was to be used against the club in an effort to show it was a “disorderly house,” and thereby close it down.
Of course, this really burns manager Magnanti’s cork. “So they pop somebody on Garnet, why should I get the blame? If there’s an obviously intoxicated person in here, we stop serving them. We don’t condone drug use; we have more bouncers than God, and we check the restrooms (for cocaine sniffers) all the time. We have a rent-a-cop in the parking lot, but we can’t patrol all the lots (in the area). The only reason people leave the club is to go out in the lot and do a line or drink. What am I supposed to do? Just because some cop has a bug up his ass because I’ve got a brand new Porsche and a beautiful girlfriend and he can’t get laid with a fistful of hundred-dollar bills in a whorehouse, am I supposed to patrol parking lots that don’t even belong to me?”
Magnanti’s attorney, William Winship, has talked to the area watch commander and been told there is no official sanction for the compiling of the alleged list. “I employ 130 people,” says Magnanti. “This area (near the west end of Garnet) was a ghost town before we came here. If that cop wants to investigate something, tell him to go investigate Mayor Hedgecock and his Dominelli investment!”