Glendale officials say they are drafting an ordinance to restrict the city's only sexually oriented bookstore and movie arcade and discourage homosexual liaisons there.
"I know that, as far as I'm concerned, it's long overdue," Mayor Ginger Bremberg said of the rules now under study. She called the Unique News and Video shop "a sin and an abomination" and contended that activities there "flagrantly abuse the community standards of Glendale."
Under consideration are requirements that video booths have no doors, that they have no holes in their side walls, that hours of operation be limited and that the number of booths allowed in a store be linked to the number of its parking spaces, according to Scott Howard, senior assistant city attorney.
During the last two weeks, Glendale undercover police arrested six men on suspicion of lewd conduct in the booths at the 15-month-old shop at 5130 San Fernando Road. Two similar arrests were made there last November.
Meanwhile, the store's manager, Gary Enea, and the president of the corporation that owns it, Daniel Bishop, face trial in Glendale Municipal Court on Sept. 30 on charges of violating the municipal zoning code. Authorities say the store's use and occupancy permit allows sales and rentals of materials but not on-site entertainment such as the closet-sized booths in which customers insert tokens to watch videos on a small screen.
Howard said an ordinance to control video booths has been under discussion for a number of years. He said he hopes to have the ordinance ready for council action before the end of the year. Bremberg said she would like to have the regulations to the council in a few weeks.
Whatever form the final ordinance takes, it will not regulate the nature or contents of books and films offered for sale in Glendale, according to Howard. Rather, he said, it will demand that the booths meet safety, fire and zoning codes.
Enea said the arrests of his customers, the zoning case and now the talk of a new ordinance make it appear to him that Glendale officials are trying to close the shop.
"I am sure they want us to fold our tents and leave. But we are not going away, and they are not going to diminish the desire of adults in Glendale to have this kind of product," Enea said.
'Still Believe in Constitution'
"I still believe in the Constitution. I still believe in adults making mature decisions for themselves rather than the state spoon-feeding them what they can view and not view. Evidently, Glendale does not think its citizens have the maturity, the intellect or the right to decide their own moral life."
Enea said he does not condone any illegal activity in the shop and would take steps to discourage that if the city asks him to. However, he said, no one from the city has ever discussed the matter with him. "I would like to sit down with the Police Department to find out what we could do to . . . placate them," Enea said.
Bremberg said she recently has received about 25 letters of complaint and at least that many telephone calls from residents in the semi-industrial neighborhood near the bookstore. The mayor--who described herself as "so square, I'm a cube" because of her strict Protestant upbringing in Minnesota--said Enea's statements about constitutional rights do not sway her feelings.
"Yelling about First Amendment rights doesn't hold true when there is abhorrent behavior. A prostitute is not allowed to solicit and shout for customers on a street corner under the guise of free speech," Bremberg stated.
Police report that as many as 50 men visited the store during an hour of surveillance last Friday night. But Enea said the store often has no or few customers.
"I don't know how much sex there is in Glendale. But, if this is any indication, then Glendale is a rapidly diminishing community," Enea quipped.
'Routine Attention' Urged
Lt. Michael Post, commander of the Glendale Police Department's vice and narcotics bureau, said his investigators have been to the shop four times. "Given the fact that, every time we have gone there, we have made two arrests in less than an hour's time indicates to us that there is a level of activity there which demands our routine attention," he said.
Post said he would welcome any ordinance that discourages public solicitation of a sexual act. He said that holes in walls of some booths allow for sexual contact between customers in adjacent booths and that some of the holes may have been purposefully cut by the management of the store.
"You would think, in the very least, the manager, had he been blissfully ignorant of what happens in this place, would have taken some action to close up those holes and help alleviate the problem," Post said.