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Noise at Rock Clubs Has Neighbors Roiled

July 30, 1987|MATHIS CHAZANOV | Times Staff Writer

"This is the rock 'n' roll capital of the world and they want to throw all of that away," said Bill Gazzarri, pushing back his trademark white fedora and eyeing the crowd of wild-haired, leather-clad young people gathered outside his Sunset Strip nightclub late Saturday night.

"You know how many cities would give their right arms to be the rock 'n' roll capital of the world?"

As he spoke, three sheriff's deputies paced slowly along the sidewalk, checking ages and identifications and telling the music fans to go inside the clubs or move on--a scenario that has been played out on weekend evenings since the beginning of July.

The new City of West Hollywood has begun an effort to deal with one of the toughest problems remaining from its days as a wide-open, unincorporated area tucked between the more-tightly regulated cities of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.

The days of gambling halls are gone, but nearby residents still find themselves cheek-by-jowl with night clubs that feature loud music and attract sometimes unruly patrons.

"It's cool up here," said a young man who identified himself only as "August" and used scummy and trash as words of praise to express his enthusiasm for the sidewalk fellowship of heavy-metal music fans.

"I'm sure they think there are a lot of fights and drinking, but it's pretty peaceful," said August, who wore makeup, tight black leather pants and a black leather jacket and heart-shaped earrings. He said he came from Hancock Park.

His companion, a wispy blonde from Woodland Hills who said her name was "just Wendy," said, "We come down here a lot to meet the guys. But the cops always hassle the chicks. We just come here to hang out. To party."

"Nothing that bad ever happens," agreed Scott Konarski, a North Hollywood musician, who sported a dozen bracelets and a tattoo. "It's just the cops that make a lot of trouble for us."

When Gazzarri's and neighboring clubs closed at 2 a.m., the deputies returned in force and told loiterers to find their cars and leave the area.

"We have overcrowding that could easily turn into a riotous situation if we let it get out of hand," said Deputy Paul Doeve. "Lots of the neighbors are really uptight."

According to Lt. Anthony Denis, who commands the Sunset Strip foot patrol, the major problem is crowding on streets and sidewalks generated by 300 to 500 young people at one time.

"We have no objection to people coming to West Hollywood, but they have to act properly," he said. "We seem to be receiving fewer complaints about the activity up there, so hopefully this is having some effect."

One of the most vociferous neighbors is Lester Hirsch, a retired physics professor who lives on a street behind Gazzarri's establishment.

"They not only park on our streets, but they party in their cars, because they don't want to pay the price of the liquor in the clubs," Hirsch said.

"They throw the empty bottles out on our sidewalks, they carry on loud and boisterous behavior, they use the side of our homes as a bathroom," he said.

On some evenings, he said, "they follow the admonishment of the Old Testament to go out and multiply wherever they can."

For their part, some restaurateurs and night club operators feel put upon by what they see as overzealous residents who would rather see them showcase new music groups "somewhere in the backwoods of Montana," as Gazzarri put it in a letter to City Council member Stephen Schulte.

Hirsch said he found it encouraging that Gazzarri felt compelled to write the letter .

"Apparently the new city is working, if we get that kind of concern," he said. "Heretofore, they've (night club owners) been able to ignore the concerns of the residents. They wouldn't write a letter like that before, because they didn't have to."

The letter, copies of which went to President Reagan, the Congress and several dozen others, including "my Aunt Tillie in Cleveland," said that the city government was discriminating against rock 'n' roll fans.

With the exception of "a few bad apples that come in any crate," rock 'n' rollers are "the finest, kindest, most polite, decent, caring, hard-working, respectful and best youth America ever produced," Gazzarri said in his letter.

In any case, Gazzarri said, "the citizens are complaining about the noise and it's only on Friday and Saturday nights, when they don't have to get up in the morning."

Not Convinced

Jean Dobrin, a resident and real estate agent who remembers when Gazzarri's was La Maze, an elegant restaurant of the late 1930s, finds that argument not at all convincing.

"A lot of people think I may be a witch who's only missing a broom," said the vocal community activist. "Not at all. I want everybody to do what they want as long as they don't impact the rights of others."

"When laissez-faire means you have to pay more for auto insurance and property insurance, then citizens have the right to rise up against it," Dobrin said.

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