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CITY HALL JOURNAL

SANTA FE SPRINGS : Council Orders 45-Day Ban on Fortunetellers

August 18, 1994|JOHN D. WAGNER

The City Council has ordered a 45-day ban on fortunetellers to determine how they should be regulated.

The decision came after Whittier resident Barbara Adams sought to open the first fortunetelling business here. The city initially gave Adams and her husband, Sam, verbal permission to operate a shop on Telegraph Road, but officials began to have second thoughts. The couple signed a lease agreement, but never opened because they received contradictory statements from city officials, said their attorney, Barry Fisher.

A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for Sept. 22 at City Hall.

"Fortunetelling is not your normal type of business," said City Manager Donald R. Powell. "We need to be able to look into their backgrounds to be sure residents are not vulnerable."

City officials said they need time to study the issue because fortunetellers are not covered in city zoning laws. The council passed an ordinance in 1986 placing several restrictions on fortunetellers, but officials said the law probably would not withstand a legal challenge.

Fisher criticized the delay and said the Adamses may sue.

"You have one person (Barbara Adams) who wants to talk to people about the future and the city is treating it as a land-use emergency," he said. "For them to deal with it in this way is outrageous."

The city had banned fortunetellers until 1985, when the state Supreme Court threw out a similar law in Azusa. Santa Fe Springs then passed the 1986 ordinance, which requires fortunetellers to provide Social Security numbers, and banned anyone convicted of fraud or morals charges from opening a fortunetelling business.

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