Jumping Turtle Under Fire for Brawls, Underage Drinking

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Nick Morris/North County Times

The Jumping Turtle, a popular music venue that allows teens and 20-somethings to showcase their bands, is under strict new rules after a string of incidents involving underage drinking and barroom brawls, the North County Times reported.

As of May 1, the business must limit the number of shows to six nights a week (and eventually to twice a week) and ban anyone under 21 from the establishment when alcohol is being served and a band is playing ---- including the musicians.

But the business is having a hard time complying with the restrictions, the paper reported. It was cited by the Sheriff's Department last Saturday for having underage audience members at a show, and it knowingly violated the rules again Wednesday night by allowing a teenage band to perform.

The owner of the Jumping Turtle, which is licensed as a restaurant, said he's been unfairly targeted by the city and saddled with "unreasonable" rules. He said the two most recent incidents, including one on April 18 that was described as a "near riot," are being overblown.

"This is a major smear campaign to make us look bad," owner Matt Hall told the paper by cell phone, also saying that there are "some bad eggs at City Hall" driving the effort. Hall, a resident of San Marcos, started the business six years ago.

"I truly feel we are being demonized right now," added Joe Troutman, the venue's entertainment director, noting he's had to tell several teen bands they can't play at the Jumping Turtle anymore.

The rules are part of the venue's new entertainment permit issued by the city of San Marcos.

City spokeswoman Jenny Peterson said the city "has not singled out" the Jumping Turtle. City officials contend the business, however, has acted more like a nightclub than the restaurant it's licensed to be.

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