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House of Blues has the civic blues

West Hollywood may impose sanctions for violence at the club.

October 07, 2008|Francisco Vara-Orta | Times Staff Writer

After a series of violent incidents, the city of West Hollywood might be about to crack down on the House of Blues.

The landmark Sunset Strip nightclub might lose its business license or have it suspended, as the City Council was set to discuss the disturbances Monday night.

Councilman John Heilman introduced the agenda item, citing in his staff report that the House of Blues hasn't improved security after a series of bar fights over the years.

Within the last 12 months, events at the House of Blues have led to 44 arrests for incidents including fights, drunk and disorderly behavior, and grand theft, according to statistics released in Heilman's report. During the same time period, there have been more than 100 sheriff's radio dispatches to the venue.

The most recent bar fight, on Sept. 4, left one woman hospitalized, involved more than 100 people brawling both inside and outside, and shut down the Sunset Strip for most of that Thursday evening, the report said.

In that incident, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies had to request assistance from the L.A. and Beverly Hills police departments while arresting dozens of people on outstanding warrants, battery and drunkenness.

Heilman, who has served on the council since it was formed in November 1984, couldn't be reached before the meeting, but staffers said the report includes the basis of his concern.

"Unfortunately, for the last several years, the House of Blues has had a history of serious problems and an unwillingness to address these problems," the report said. "After each serious incident, there is a perfunctory apology and a promise to reform, but the problems persist and have escalated."

An employee at the Sunset House of Blues gave no comment, saying the club's spokeswoman could not be reached.

Heilman's report said that although management "claims to accept responsibility and expresses a desire to change," the establishment "continues to host events and promote the venue to groups which disrespect the community and the business."

Heilman's report also argues that the number of incidents to which local law enforcement responds is excessive and that the place altogether is disruptive to nearby residents and businesses.

The report lists a series of violent incidents that have occurred this year at the Strip's House of Blues:

Feb. 27: Patron hit in the face at concert.

March 23: Large crowd fighting in driveway.

March 28: Several persons involved in fight. Security requests deputies' assistance to prevent fight from escalating.

April 26: Deputies called to location. Windows open and loud concert music being played into neighborhood.

May 23: Fighting in top parking lot.

June 21: Six men trying to fight with security in nearby driveway.

June 26: Male in and out of consciousness at venue. Fire rescue unit required.

June 30: About 50 people fighting at the club.

July 7: About 200 people from concert in front of club and people getting into fights.

July 15: Female in and out of consciousness at location. Fire rescue unit required.

Aug. 5: Man had chair thrown at him in club.

Sept. 4: More than 100 people were involved in fights both inside and outside. Several people were arrested. One woman was hospitalized. Helicopters were dispatched to monitor the area until 1 a.m. The Sunset Strip shut down for several hours.

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francisco.varaorta@ latimes.com

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