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West Valley Focus

CANOGA PARK : Sex Shop Faces 20 New Restrictions

August 31, 1994|ERIC SLATER

Three months after the Los Angeles Police Department asked to have a Canoga Park sex shop shut down, a city zoning official has placed 20 operating conditions on the business and warned it must clean up its act or face revocation of its operating license.

Capt. Valentino Paniccia of the West Valley Division, who filed the original request to have Le Sex Shoppe at 21625 Sherman Way closed, said he was optimistic that the restrictions would reduce neighbors' complaints about prostitution, public masturbation and other lewd conduct.

"I believe that they are trying very hard because they know that the community is truly fed up . . . and this may be their last chance to stay in business."

But, Paniccia added: "It's not like there haven't been restrictions before. Le Sex Shoppe has been an ongoing problem."

Indeed, complaints about activities at the store--which sells sexually explicit videos and magazines and houses private viewing booths--date back at least to 1987, and the business has previously had conditions imposed.

After a public hearing Aug. 5 and subsequent meetings with police officials and the shop's parent company, Erotic Words and Pictures Inc. of Ontario, Zoning Administrator John Parker levied 20 conditions for the continued operation of the shop.

"What I basically did was use the restrictions recommended by the Police Department, but I did modify some," Parker said.

Among the conditions, the store must now employ an armed security guard in a back parking lot in addition to one already stationed inside. Signs must be posted noting that the business is working with the LAPD to eliminate lewd conduct in and around the premises. And hours of operation would be limited to between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m.

"We will adopt most, if not all, of the suggested conditions," said Beverly Hills attorney Robert DePiano, who represents the parent company. "We continue to make changes in trying to cooperate with the community and the city."

The shop has until Sept. 8 to appeal the decision, and DePiano said that while his clients are already complying with many of the conditions, they may contest the ruling on "procedural issues," such as not being able to cross-examine witnesses at the Aug. 5 hearing.

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