Too Crowded, Too Rowdy, Teen Disco to Lose Permit

Times Staff Writer

The Oasis Dance Club, a popular Artesia Boulevard disco for teen-agers that was shut down last month after being cited for overcrowding and other fire code violations, will lose its entertainment permit next week.

Responding to complaints from area residents and to police and Fire Department reports, the City Council voted unanimously this week to revoke the permit at its meeting next Monday. The council delayed the action one week to allow the city attorney to draft an order of revocation.

The disco, which operated on Friday and Saturday nights until midnight in the basement of Las Brisas restaurant, has been the scene of numerous arrests, fights and noise complaints since the beginning of this year, police said. As the only teen disco in the city, the Oasis had evolved into a favorite meeting place for youths after opening in December, city officials said.

On May 3, police arrested two disco-goers for allegedly damaging 14 vehicles near the restaurant and club. In addition, police have arrested both youths and adults for intoxication, have broken up fights and made arrests after receiving complaints from neighbors and nearby businesses, and have been called to the establishment 22 times since January, according to a report by Police Chief Roger M. Moulton. The disco is licensed to provide entertainment without alcohol.

Fire Code Violations

The establishment, moreover, violated numerous fire code regulations; it lacked adequate exits and was overcrowded by an estimated 100% on one Friday night, fire officials said.

Fire Marshal Capt. Stephen Nothern, who shut down the disco after an inspection May 3, said inspectors counted more than 200 youths in the basement club that evening. The entertainment permit allows only 136 people, he said.

"There are huge crowds of youngsters waiting to get in because there is no room," said Councilman Archie Snow, who represents the district where the restaurant and disco are located. "After 11, some of them are under the influence, of, let's say, the music."

Laurence Hall, an attorney who represents Paula Escalante, the operator of the restaurant and disco, disputed the police reports at this week's council meeting, saying few complaints came during the nights the disco actually was open. He said Escalante knew of no arrests for intoxication, and described the disco as a "well-supervised activity for the children of the city."

Not 'Willingly Violated'

Hall acknowledged that the disco violated the city fire code, but said Escalante only recently became aware of the violations. "I don't think they ever willingly violated the Fire Department's regulations," he said.

Hall asked that the city delay any action on the entertainment permit to allow the Oasis to review police reports and offer an explanation, if there is one, for the complaints.

"They have no interest in continuing an operation detrimental to the city or the children of the city," he said. "I am basically here to say that we are here to work with the city and see what can be done."

But the City Council, which issued the entertainment permit on Feb. 4 on the condition that it could be revoked after a three- or six-month review, was not interested in delaying the revocation process. "I think they should surrender their permit until all conditions are met," Snow said.

Appeal Unlikely

Hall said Tuesday it was unlikely that the Oasis would make any further appeals to the city to reopen the disco. "The message that I gathered was that the council members do not want a teen-age nightclub in Redondo Beach," he said.

While revocation of the entertainment permit will also affect the Las Brisas restaurant, which occasionally provides live guitar music, city officials did not object to that music. City Manager Timothy Casey said Las Brisas will be encouraged to reapply for a permit for the restaurant only.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World