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Judge Plans Decision on Nude Juice Bar

May 22, 1998|MIMI KO CRUZ

A judge said Thursday he will decide within a few weeks whether to allow a nude juice bar to open in La Habra.

Orange County Superior Court Judge John C. Woolley is weighing whether to grant a preliminary injunction that would allow the Pelican Theater to open for business, despite opposition from city officials and hundreds of residents.

When the City Council voted not to grant an operating permit for the Pelican in October 1995, officials said the establishment would not meet parking and landscaping requirements. Also, the city requested $256,000 in traffic fees.

But the Pelican's owners said they did meet all city requirements and called the traffic fees exorbitant. They said the city officials made their decision because they didn't want a nude juice bar in town.

The theater sued the city, and in 1997 a jury found that La Habra had the right to prevent the place from opening. An appeal has been filed, and a trial date is pending.

Numerous court cases, including a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, have established that adult businesses have a right to operate, but cities may restrict their locations.

Meanwhile, Pelican attorney Roger Jon Diamond said his clients just want to open their bar, which would admit anyone 18 or older and feature nude dancing and nonalcoholic beverages.

"There's way too much emotion in this case," Diamond said. "I think the use excites and inflames people, but the U.S. Supreme Court takes care of that problem."

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