YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

L.A. Wins Move to Stop Club

Appellate court rules that the city acted legally when it denied a permit for nude dance spot. Frisky Kitty's lawyer plans more appeals.

November 10, 2005|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

The city of Los Angeles has won an appeals court decision backing its move to shut down a nude dance club in Tarzana, but an attorney for the club said Wednesday that additional appeals mean the dancing won't stop for years.

A state Court of Appeal ruled, in a decision made public Wednesday, that the City Council acted legally when it rejected a permit request by the Frisky Kitty on the grounds that it was within 500 feet of an apartment building and that there are other sites in Los Angeles where it can operate legally.

Adult businesses can file for an exception to city zoning rules if they are at least 500 feet from schools, parks and churches, but are within that distance of residentially zoned properties and there are no other sites where they can legally operate.

A Superior Court judge ruled that the city had acted properly when it rejected the exception for the club, which is in an industrial zone at Oxnard Street and Reseda Boulevard.

"We affirm the judgment because substantial evidence supports the city's finding that there is a site reasonably available for relocation of the plaintiff's business within the meaning of the Los Angeles Municipal Code," the appellate judges said.

Councilman Dennis Zine, who was once sued unsuccessfully for $100 million by the club's owners for allegedly harassing the business, hailed the decision. "We are not going to relent on our insistence that the law be followed and that these establishments be located where they are legally permitted, and not encroach on neighborhoods and have a negative impact on the quality of life," Zine said.

Roger Jon Diamond, an attorney for the club, said that he has tied the city up in court since 2000, during which time the club has continued operating.

"I'm not disappointed because the Frisky Kitty has been operating since 2000, even though it is in violation of the Los Angeles Municipal Code," Diamond said.

"I have been able, through various legal means, to keep it operating for five years. I figure it has another 10 years to operate" before all legal means are exhausted, Diamond said.

Diamond said the apartment building closest to the Frisky Kitty was separated from the club by a large parking lot, a high fence and tall trees. "It has not been harming the community," he said.

Leonard Shaffer, president of the Tarzana Neighborhood Council, said the city attorney should move to shut the club down unless the courts block action pending any new appeal. "They've been operating without a permit for years," he said.

Shaffer, an attorney, said he was not surprised by the slow pace of the case. "Obviously it's very frustrating to the neighborhood and the business community," he said.

Diamond has been at odds with city officials for as long as they have attempted to shut down the club, owned by Dino's Road House Inc. and Dean Gettleson. The club sued Zine, a reserve police officer, alleging harassment after he brought Police Chief William J. Bratton there to investigate community complaints.

Diamond also went after the entire City Council in another case. While representing the Blue Zebra adult club in Lincoln Heights before the council, Diamond videotaped the council members conversing, walking around and talking on cellphones during a hearing on the club's zoning application. He submitted the videotape to a court of appeal, which last year ruled that Diamond was owed another hearing because council members had violated his right to due process by not listening to him.

Los Angeles Times Articles