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Thursday, Sep 21, 2023


WADE DANIELS Staff Reporter The Lingerie Oasis opened its doors in North Hollywood last year after receiving a permit from the city of Los Angeles to operate as a retail lingerie store with live models. The funny thing was, according to city officials, it never sold any lingerie. Instead, models at the Victory Boulevard store gave private showings to male clients for a fee. Concerned about the neighborhood’s image and the encroachment of adult entertainment businesses, local business people recently joined forces with the LAPD’s North Hollywood vice unit to close the Lingerie Oasis. The merchants mounted a petition drive to put pressure on city officials. During a July 14 hearing, the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals agreed with merchants and police that the business was little more than a “sexual encounter” club operating under the guise of a lingerie shop. “We wanted to squelch this type of business before it got a hold on the area,” said Peter Greene, vice president for development at A & E; Development Co. Inc., which bought an office building in February near the Lingerie Oasis and led the drive to close the shop. “There’s a church and a school nearby, and customers were starting to veer away from businesses close to the club.” At the July hearing, a North Hollywood vice officer testified that his unit discovered that sex acts were taking place at the club. The board determined that the Lingerie Oasis was in violation of its permit and began the process of closing it down, which should be completed this month, said Dave Kuntzman, a city planner and staff member at the Board of Zoning Appeals. The only way the owner could stay open would be to successfully challenge the decision in court, Kuntzman said. Oasis owner Ivette Gonzaga declined comment. Her attorney, Colin Holley of Weston, Garrou & DeWitt, would say only that his client has not yet decided whether to file a lawsuit. Merchants say sexually oriented businesses are a big problem in the area, with 15 such businesses in North Hollywood alone. While many merchants wish to expel adult entertainment businesses, it is usually impossible to do so because most are legitimate establishments, said Ken Banks, director of the North Hollywood Community Forum, a non-profit economic development organization. He said the best way to fight the neighborhood blight connected with adult entertainment businesses is to closely watch their activity and point out to authorities when the boundaries of an operating permit are being overstepped. “If we could close all these businesses it would be nice,” Banks said. “That is very difficult to do unless they do something not in compliance with their operating license.” According to Lt. Don Hooper of the LAPD’s Valley bureau, the past year has seen a rise in the number of reports of adult entertainment businesses like strip bars offering their customers more than just a dance show. “Many of these places have been adding little booths where (private) dancing supposedly goes on,” said Hooper, who explained that police have been receiving the complaints from business people and sometimes even the clients of the adult establishments.

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