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Zoners, Fearing Prostitution, Deny Motel Wing

July 30, 1986|RICH SIMON | Times Staff Writer

After neighbors and police objected that expansion of a Van Nuys motel would increase prostitution in the area, the Los Angeles Board of Zoning Appeals voted Tuesday to deny a permit for the 30-unit addition.

The Chateau Motel can appeal the decision to the City Council, but it is not likely to win there because the expansion is opposed by Councilman Ernani Bernardi, who represents the area. The council usually defers to members on projects in their districts.

The owner of the 44-unit motel in the 6700 block of Sepulveda Boulevard was seeking to expand onto adjoining property. City approval is required because the adjoining property is zoned for apartments, not a motel.

The 3-1 board vote came after a two-hour City Hall hearing in which neighbors and a police vice officer complained that the motel has attracted prostitutes.

37 Arrested in Front

Sgt. Joseph Brazas testified that, during two recent operations of a "trick task force," officers arrested 37 men who were soliciting undercover policewomen for prostitution in front of the motel.

Brazas said a motel employee was recently arrested on suspicion of knowingly renting a room for prostitution. The employee pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disturbing the peace and was fined $100, Brazas said.

Leatrice Lynne Latts, an attorney for the motel, said the new rooms would be rented only to families.

But board member Nikolas Patsaouras cited the existing prostitution problem in the neighborhood and asked rhetorically, "Who in his right mind would use that motel for his family?"

The lone vote against denying the expansion was cast by Board Chairman James D. Leewong, who complained that the board was prejudging the motel.

"I'm not comfortable making zoning decisions based on paranoia," he said.

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