The owner of a Glassell Park bar that had its license suspended this month for selling alcohol to a drunken patron has angered some neighborhood residents and officials by requesting a permit for topless dancing.
Neighbors say that allowing such entertainment at the Los Candiles bar at Division Street and Cypress Avenue would increase crime and put unsavory activities too close to children from an elementary school two blocks away.
"We're afraid it's going to bring in a bad outside influence," said Linda Herbert, a Glassell Park resident who works at a plating company near the bar.
Neighbors say they are worried that, if the City of Los Angeles approves topless dancing at Los Candiles, two other bars--The Kopper Keg in Cypress Park and The Super King in Highland Park--will also seek permits to go topless. Both bars are owned or partly owned by the proprietor of Los Candiles.
Los Candiles owner Elizabeth Asencio was unavailable for comment, and a manager declined to discuss the case.
Decision Within 2 Weeks
City officials say the bar has a police commission permit that allows bikini dancing. Asencio has requested a conditional-use permit that would allow topless dancing between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m., said zoning administrator Louis Muto, who is hearing the case.
Muto said he expects to reach a decision within two weeks, taking into consideration the bar's location and its proximity to schools and homes. The bar is in an industrial area, but Glassell Park Elementary School is only a few blocks away.
Some elected officials and Los Angeles police officers also oppose granting the permit.
"They've established a track record which indicates to me that they haven't followed the rules and regulations for running their business," said Vice Officer Mike Nichol. Police receive frequent complaints about armed fights, littering and drunken behavior in and around the bar, Nichol said.
Public Hearing Held
Last month, about 10 representatives from homeowner groups and nearby businesses showed up at a public hearing before Muto to oppose topless dancing at Los Candiles.
Arline DeSanctis, an aide to Councilman Joel Wachs, whose district includes Glassell Park, said she has received many complaints about activities at the bar.
Herb Leong, assistant principal at Glassell Park Elementary School, said parents have expressed concern about the proposed topless dancing. Some children pass the bar to reach a nearby bus stop, and "this type of environment may have an effect on their safety," Leong said.
Los Candiles has run afoul of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control three times in five years, according to officials at ABC, which licenses all bars.
This month, the bar's license was suspended for a 20-day period through June 7 for selling alcohol to a drunken patron, said Graham Archer, ABC district administrator. In 1983, the bar received a 20-day suspension for employing a minor to serve alcohol and for serving a drunken patron. And, in 1982, Los Candiles paid a $500 fine in lieu of a 20-day suspension for selling alcohol to an intoxicated patron. Archer noted that such violations are "very common" in Los Angeles.
Police and city officials say they do not know how many topless bars there are in Los Angeles. Topless and bottomless bars are legal in the city, but dancers and proprietors must abide by certain restrictions.
"The only time we can take action with nude dancing is when there's lewd conduct," said Los Angeles Police Capt. Jim Docherty, who heads the administrative vice department.
Proprietors must obtain permits and follow restrictions set forth in the Los Angeles municipal code. The code prohibits adult entertainment within 500 feet of a church, school, public park and certain types of housing, according to Officer Phil Aleman of the Los Angeles Police Commission, which investigates and enforces such laws. Businesses that feature adult entertainment cannot be within 1,000 feet of a similar establishment.
Aleman said Los Candiles does not appear to be violating the municipal code.
Nichol said he knows of only one bar in northeast Los Angeles that features topless entertainment--the Chaco Room on Los Feliz Boulevard.