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City Sues to Stop Topless Dancing at Club

September 29, 2004|Dave McKibben | Times Staff Writer

Officials in Lake Forest have sued the Library Gentleman's Club for allegedly operating illegally as a topless adult cabaret.

In an ordinance that was rewritten last spring, the city requires that adult businesses be at least 1,000 feet from residential neighborhoods, and the Library, which recently had been permitted to operate as a dance hall and pool room, is less than 300 feet from homes, according to the lawsuit.

"A police investigation showed that there was topless dancing on stage and solicitation of lap dances and tips," said Lake Forest City Atty. Scott Smith.

On Tuesday, a topless dancer performed to rock music before a small lunchtime crowd, which was told she was also available for "one-on-one" dances.

The Library is in a half-empty strip mall off El Toro Road, near a wallpaper store, a picture frame shop, a bike shop and a sporting goods store.

City officials said the Library, which opened more than three years ago as an adult entertainment club, only recently evolved into a strip club, according to councilman Richard Dixon.

"As they were pushing the envelope, we were coincidentally developing a constitutionally sound ordinance," Dixon said.

A bartender at the Library declined comment on the city's lawsuit. The Library's owners, Harold E. McNeill and David Bailey, did not return phone calls.

A second strip club, located sufficiently far from residential neighborhoods, operates legally in Lake Forest. Two years ago, the city considered eliminating table dancing and direct tipping at local strip clubs.

The complaint against the Library alleges that sheriff's vice investigators observed female dancers performing topless on the main stage on three occasions. On another occasion, the complaint says, dancers performed private lap dances for sheriff's investigators.

Smith said the city also received numerous complaints from nearby residents about the nature of the Library's business.

An Oct. 21 preliminary hearing was scheduled to review the Library's compliance.

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