321's Liquor License in Jeopardy : Complaints Lead to Hearing on Teen Club

Times Staff Writer

The state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has scheduled hearings in February to consider revoking or suspending Club 321's liquor license.

The department's action came in response to a formal accusation filed by Santa Monica charging that the club is disorderly, has caused problems for the police, violated its liquor license and refused to respond to city appeals to reverse the conditions.

The club at 321 Santa Monica Blvd. is a popular nightspot for teen-agers. It has two bars and three levels and offers dancing to music by live bands, music videos and records.

In a 19-page document, the city alleges that patrons were arrested for wielding and brandishing guns and knives, minors were served alcohol on the premises, thefts occurred near the club, booming noises from the club disturbed Tony Roma's restaurant next door and club employees assaulted patrons.

3 Days of Hearings

The hearings are scheduled for Feb. 13, 14 and 15 at 9 a.m. in the Santa Monica City Council chambers. The city will present its case before a state hearing examiner and the club will present its defense, and the examiner will decide whether the club's license should be suspended or revoked. Either party has the right to appeal the decision. Deputy City Atty. Jeffrey Holtzman will present the city's case.

Holtzman said the city will present witnesses, victims and police officers to back up the allegations.

"We have guns and knives that are in evidence," he said. "The nature of the allegations is very serious and the conduct of the patrons is very serious. I can't speak to their policies with respect to the bouncers. There have been numerous assault-and-battery charges against patrons by club employees."

Minors are allowed into the club but are not supposed to be served alcohol. The club is required to check identification before serving alcohol. On some weekends, teen-agers are seen congregating outside.

"It's obvious that it's been a problem to us," Santa Monica Police Chief James F. Keane said. "In my opinion, the problem revolves around the fact that juveniles can go to a place like that where liquor is served. . . . We have no other locations in the city similar to the 321 Club. All the other clubs are for adults only."

Attempts to reach owner Lloyd Moody, president of Moody's Enterprises Inc., were unsuccessful. Sharon Burnside, who identified herself as Moody's administrative assistant, said, "The funny thing is we have no citations or problems on record at the Police Department. Everything has been fabricated on their desks. The city doesn't want a nightclub . . . so we are suffering the consequences even though we have been here six years."

The city has charged that the club violated its Type 57 license that requires it to keep a membership list and restrict entrance to club members.

City officials said that the club openly advertises its cover charges. In September, 1983, a Santa Monica Police Reserve officer gained admission by filling out an application form and paying $7, according to the city.

A telephone tape recording at the club advertises admission to the club for $5 to $8 on some nights. The tape advertises a full bar and welcomes people who are under 21. "Now is the time for you to join L.A.'s premier dance club, the 321, with state-of-the-art sound, lighting and video, all on three floors that must be seen, heard and felt to be believed," a voice on the tape says.

In October, the City Council asked the department to conduct hearings on the club's liquor license. The city attorney's office began preparing a list of charges. Usually the charges are lodged by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which monitors bars and restaurants in California.

Dallas Taylor, district administrator for the department, said it has the authority to revoke the club's license. Taylor said that he hopes the hearing examiner rules in favor of the city.

More Than 80 Incidents

"This is still pending litigation," Taylor said. "We don't want to do anything that would jeopardize any of the proceedings. We hope the city is successful in this allegation. . . . We would assume the allegations, as they laid them out, are certainly cause for concern for the city."

City Atty. Robert M. Myers said that most of the information in the city's case consists of police reports. Police have conducted an undercover investigation at the club.

"We believe we will be able to prove each of the incidents at the hearing," Myers said. "We have a sufficient number of incidents to back up (our case)."

The city's accusation includes more than 80 incidents at or near the club over the past two years.

In the first incident listed, the city claims that in February, 1983, a man walked into the club with a .12-gauge shotgun and threatened to kill patrons on the premises.

Later that month, four employees allegedly assaulted a patron, the report stated.

The accusation lists several examples of fights, assaults, disturbances, thefts and vandalism in the area. People were arrested at the club for possession of firearms and drugs. During the past two years, there are several charges that the club served alcohol to minors, including a 13-year-old girl who was found unconscious on a bus bench near the club.

The accusation also contends that the club was in violation of the Santa Monica fire code, with several exits padlocked and a motorcycle blocking a hallway leading to an exit.

The city also charged the club with disturbing the peace. On Nov. 21, 1984, according to the accusation, a crowd of 300 to 600 people gathered outside the club blocked the sidewalk and three lanes of traffic.Twenty-one officers were required to take care of the disturbance. The city charges that the club was uncooperative and encouraged "patrons to cross police lines."

In 1981, the club received a five-day suspension for adulterating contents in bottles.

The club's license has been suspended twice for operating after hours. In April, the club paid $6,000 for serving liquor to a minor, allowing a minor to consume alcohol on the premises and selling liquor to a non-member.

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