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City Asks 'Santa' to Take Down His Decorations

August 13, 1987|DENISE HAMILTON | Times Staff Writer

A self-styled Santa Claus is headed for court soon because of the many decorations and lights at his "Winter Wonderland" home.

After meeting in closed session Tuesday, the Glendale City Council ordered City Atty. Frank Manzano to file against 63-year-old Robert George to make him comply with city building and safety regulations.

The council decision culminates months of negotiations with George and complaints from neighbors over decorations at the home he rents in the 1300 block of Alameda Street. The house is decked with thousands of Christmas lights and ornaments, fake snow on the roof and a 14-foot fiberglass reindeer. City officials said the owners of the house, Joseph and Margaret Cernuto, also are named in the action.

No More Visitors

Manzano said a request for a temporary restraining order filed in Glendale Superior Court late Wednesday asks that George immediately remove decorations from the house and stop entertaining visitors.

The city is being forced to take the court action because, City Manager James Rez said, "I don't think there are any other options." About 40 of George's neighbors have volunteered to testify against him in court, Rez said.

When told about the council's decision, George expressed dismay.

"I think they're making a big mistake," he said. "It's only 142 days until Christmas and the whole world is behind me."

George said he will probably countersue. In March, he filed a $1.5-million claim against the city rather than remove his decorations. He did not press for action on that claim and, he said, has since done his best to comply with city electrical codes and building regulations.

Corrections Needed

City officials, however, disagree.

"Some of the things that should have been corrected have not been corrected," said Councilman Larry Zarian.

George said he has dressed up as Santa Claus for 39 years and provides an important public service by opening his house to terminally ill children whose last wish is to meet Santa. Last December, George enlisted the help of attorney Gloria Allred after neighbors petitioned to shut him down because of traffic and noise in their residential neighborhood.

At the time, George promised to comply with city codes, and Glendale officials agreed to back down until after Christmas.

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