LAPD Aims To Close Strip Club
Posted by Melissa Simon on Aug 9, 2013 - 1:00:34 PM
TOPANGA CANYON—A popular strip club and bar complex in Canoga Park came under fire from the LAPD for being a nuisance and crime magnet on Friday, August 2, at a zoning hearing meant to close or restrict the businesses.
“The businesses have been an ongoing problem for the Los Angeles Police Department with frequent crimes and arrests that deplete the Department’s resources,” said Alex Padron, senior lead officer for the Topanga Community Police Station.
The hearing was open to public comment for those who had any problems or complaints about Xposed Gentlemen’s Club at 8229 Canoga Ave. and The Wet Spot Bar at 8237 Canoga Ave.
At the hearing, officers from the Topanga Division said they have received calls for prostitution, pandering, assault, public intoxication and public urination, among other offenses, over the past three years. Police said they believed these instances were connected to the strip club’s dancers and customers.
“The number of calls ebbs and flows, but I can no longer afford to waste our officers’ time,” said Padron.
Brad Barnes, owner of both locations, said his business is not the main cause of the problems and believes it has to do with the homeless population that is drawn to the liquor store. Barnes has been trying to moderate some of the issues and has guards that patrol the area to decrease illegal or inappropriate activity.
Front of Xposed Gentlemen's Club
“We are a legitimate business, and we’re the biggest club in the city,” Barnes said. “We are out there patrolling day and night, especially at night. Now I have to go out there and take pictures of the bums sleeping in the bushes of the post office parking lot to show the problems aren’t coming from us.”
Barnes said he currently has around 1,500 female dancers at Xposed and around 1,000 of those women work at the bar, but they are not paid employees. They are more like independent contractors so the club has little to no control over what the women do while on their breaks or after-hours.
When the property was originally zoned years ago to prohibit strip clubs, the club was grandfathered in, but now police want to reverse the exemption for the club because of the number of complaints. The city has the power to close the bar if deemed a nuisance or impose stricter operation restrictions.
Roger Jon Diamond, Barnes’ attorney, said either decision could affect other businesses in the shopping center. The shopping center also has a medical marijuana collective, liquor store, an upholstery shop, a lingerie/sex toy shop and a pizzeria.
“Politically, it looks like they’re painting a broad stroke against the whole area—the club, the bar and the nearby marijuana collective,” said Diamond.
R. Nicolas Brown, the city associate zoning administrator, has asked for more information from both the LAPD and the bar by September 6, with his final decision being made by October 4.
If the business is not shut down, LAPD said the following four conditions should be imposed: have three licensed armed security guards on the property that report to the LAPD; have the dancers be club employees instead of independent contractors; allow the LAPD to view the wireless security cameras; and have the support of the club in closing the marijuana dispensary.
Should the zoning administrator decide there is not enough of a nuisance, the LAPD could go to the City Attorney’s Office to shut down the club through the revocation of its cabaret license, which is issued by the police commission.
“We could have gone through mediation with them, but this wields the most power,” said Padron, who plans to get the businesses shut down. “Revocation is my ultimate goal. If this doesn’t work, we’ll try something else.