Health club probed for possible violations

A local health club is under investigation for numerous alleged health- and building-code violations.

The San Mateo County Office of Environmental Health Services, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office and Redwood City’s code-enforcement division are looking into a number of patron complaints regarding the Redwood City Athletic Club at 515 Veterans Blvd. The most egregious violation is the fact that the club’s hot water hasn’t worked reliably in many months, according to Dean Peterson, director of the county’s environmental health office.

“The health code requires hot water for the showers if a facility has a swimming pool,” which Redwood City Athletic Club does, Peterson said. “They have maintained minimal compliance” — either by repairing the boiler for short periods or by closing the pool when it isn’t working.

Rich, a manager at the club who declined to give his last name, acknowledged that there have been ongoing problems with the hot water and other amenities. “We have spent $4,000 on the boiler and think we got it resolved [Monday],” he said.

The Health Department began investigating the club in January 2005, and ongoing issues have led the department to seek help from the District Attorney’s Office, Peterson said.

That office is waiting for more information before it launches its own study, according to John Wilson, deputy district attorney for the consumer and environmental division. Wilson would not speculate on any potential for penalties.

Patrons have lodged other complaints about problems, including a collapsed ceiling that forced the closure of the men’s sauna, a urinal that has been leaking for many years, weights on exercise machines that are held together with duct tape and torn carpeting in the men’s and women’s areas of the club, according to Daniel Petelin, a customer who has used the facility for 35 years.

It has been impossible to hire a contractor to repair the sauna roof, Rich said, adding that the 22,000-square-foot building, which has housed the athletic club for 47 years, is due to be renovated next year.

The club has approximately 6,000 members, who pay relatively low fees compared with other health clubs — Petelin pays about $130 a year.

“Our message is: Don’t close the gym. Fix it up,” Petelin said. “We’ve been told by management, ‘If you don’t like it, leave,’ but that’s not the type of attitude they should have. I just like it. Many of us have become great friends down there.”

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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