A San Fernando real estate broker, who for months has fought to open a Pacoima bar and pool hall despite community opposition, vowed Wednesday that he will operate a "clean and healthy" business after receiving a pool table permit from the Los Angeles Police Commission.
The Police Commission on Tuesday voted unanimously to grant the license to Henry Romero, although a report by the commission staff recommended that the permit be denied. A commission hearing examiner had determined that the pool hall would "directly conflict" with the operation of a mental health clinic next door.
Residents of the neighborhood said during a public hearing in February that the proposed business would expose mentally ill patients to harassment from pool hall patrons and would provide a poor environment for patients attempting to recover from emotional problems.
The commissioners, however, decided that, because Romero had no record of poor business operations and is involved in community service organizations, there were no grounds to deny the permit, said William Cowdin, the Police Commission's secretary.
"The commissioners felt that the complaints were purely speculative, and to deny a permit on the basis of maybes would have been grossly unfair to the applicant," Cowdin said.
The commission ordered that the site be inspected in 60 days to assure that there are no infractions of the permit's conditions, Cowdin said.
No one under 18 will be allowed inside the storefront pool hall, which will be in a small shopping center at 11479 San Fernando Road on the Pacoima-San Fernando border. No live entertainment or dancing will be allowed, and no liquor will be sold or allowed inside the pool hall.
Romero said that he had not set a date for opening the business but that it would be "in the near future." Romero said he would encourage competitive billiards among senior citizens and women in the community.
Officials of the county-run mental health clinic said they were disappointed with the decision but pledged to monitor the business during the next 60 days. "We will be watching to see what happens," said Frank Yudico, a counselor at the clinic.