Zoning Rules Used to Try Operators of Peep Show

August 13, 1987|LARRY GORDON | Times Staff Writer

The television peep shows at the only sexually oriented book store and video arcade in Glendale violate municipal zoning rules, city officials say.

As a result, the manager and president of Unique News & Video, at 5130 San Fernando Road, face trial next month in what their attorney says is a thinly disguised attempt to shut down the shop.

"I believe Glendale is using this case to get rid of an establishment they find distasteful," attorney Joseph Liebman of Los Angeles said. "Typically, municipalities all over the country have used zoning laws to try to shut down businesses like this. But they have very rarely been successful."

Scott Howard, senior assistant city attorney, said Glendale is seeking to close the token-operated video booths, not the store itself. The shop's use and occupancy permit allows sale and rental of material, but not on-site entertainment, Howard said.

"They are not being prosecuted for the nature of what they are showing," Howard said. "It wouldn't make a difference if they were showing Disney movies. They would still have to be appropriately approved for that."

Named in the misdemeanor complaint are Gary Enea, shop manager, and Daniel Bishop, president of the corporation that owns it. The case is scheduled to be heard in Glendale Municipal Court on Sept. 30 and the two, if convicted of violating the use and occupancy permit, face a maximum of six months in jail or a $500 fine, or both.

Meanwhile, Enea was arrested Tuesday and charged with beating one of his former employees with a piece of wood in the shop parking lot.

Police records show that Richard Sandoval, 22, of Tujunga said Enea hit him in the forearm with the wood after an argument in which Sandoval quit his job. Sandoval was not seriously hurt.

Enea, 42, of Glendale, was released after posting a $2,000 bond. He was charged with felonious assault. A Municipal Court hearing is scheduled Sept. 17.

Police said the store was also the scene of the arrests of two male customers for lewd conduct in November. Lt. Michael Post, commander of the vice and narcotics bureau, said investigators believe the booths are used for sexual activities.

Enea declined to discuss his assault arrest on Wednesday, but he did claim that the store complies with Glendale zoning laws. He said the booths show previews of what is for sale.

First Amendment Defense

The manager said the city's action violates the First Amendment right to free expression. "The fact that they don't like what we are selling is ironic during the 200th anniversary of our Constitution."

Bishop, who could not be reached for comment, is president of Wisconsin Entertainment of Glendale, which owns the store, according to state records.

Liebman, attorney for Bishop and Enea, said the store's owners chose the location on San Fernando Road, at the corner of Ivy Street, because it is away from homes, churches and minors.

The store, opened in May, 1986, is in a gray, warehouse-type building distinguished from nearby factories by a six-foot-long sign proclaiming: "Adult Material, Books-Magazines & Video Peeps."

Inside are racks with heterosexually and homosexually oriented books and magazines, and glass cases displaying "erotic toys."

The Rev. Chris Beamer, pastor of the First Christian Church in Glendale, has been lobbying to close the shop. He held two meetings with ministers and others and talked to store employees. Beamer conceded that he has not attracted much support for his campaign but said he will continue.

"I realize it is in a semi-industrial part of Glendale, but ". . . People are mobile and can travel there if they find out where it is," the minister said.

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