Monday, August 9, 2004
Federal Judge Enjoins City From Throwing Strip Club Out of Mall
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The City of Pico Rivera cannot bar a strip club from operating in a local mini-mall because there are no other locations within the city in which it could effectively do business, a U.S. district judge has ruled.
Judge Dickran Tevrizian, in an order made public Friday, enjoined the city from forcing the “adult theater cabaret” Imperial Showgirls from its present Slauson Avenue location. The city’s proposal to force the club to leave because it is located in a “commercial general,” rather than a “commercial manufacturing,” zone as required by city ordinance would violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the judge said.
It is the second legal victory won by the club in its bid to continue operating over the objection of some local residents and officials. This district’s Court of Appeal ruled last year that a local pastor and members of his church did not have a constitutional right to continue picketing in front of the business, particularly after the protests turned violent.
The latest ruling stems from a civil rights suit filed two years ago, Tevrizian explained that of 20 potential sites identified by the parties in the CM zone, “there are no existing structures that can accommodate Plaintiffs’ use as an adult cabaret theater.”
The city, he noted, is less than eight square miles in area and only has seven acres of land zoned commercial manufacturing. In addition, the ordinance prohibits locating an adult business within 1,000 feet of a church, school, or public park, even if it is in the CM zone.
To enforce a zoning ordinance against a business engaged in expressive activity, the judge explained, “at a minimum, there must be more sites available than existing businesses with a demand for them.” The lack of “any site” that will accommodate the plaintiff under the current city ordinance, Tevrizian said, “is unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional.”
The injunction allows Imperial Showgirls to operate at the current location until March 31, 2007, when its lease will expire. The ruling does not permit similar businesses to set up in the area.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, told the MetNews that he and a lawyer for the city rode around in one car and the judge in another, looking at potential sites for the business, before the judge reached his conclusion.
The city was represented by James M. Casso and Roger A. Colvin of Alvarez-Glasman & Colvin and by Deborah J. Fox and Dawn A. McIntosh of Fox & Sohagi, LLP.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company