To 16-year-old Stephanie Sellers, the Anaheim Fun Center video arcade is “like a second home.” To surrounding residents and officials of neighboring Anaheim High School, the arcade is a nuisance.
This week, using a city code that prohibits amusement arcades within 600 feet of a school without the principal’s permission, city officials plan to permanently close the arcade at 884 W. Lincoln Ave.
“We’ve had problems on and off there for the last number of years,” said John Poole, who heads the city’s code enforcement office. In the last month, his department has received nine letters complaining about loitering, drunken fights, drug abuse and public urination, among other nuisances, Poole said. Police, on the other hand, said they have had no problems there.
Arcade owner Ray Hruby said, “It’s absurd to blame the arcade for problems nearby.” Hruby, the center’s owner since December, said he appealed to the school and offered to not open his business during school hours, but officials turned him down. Hruby also owns an arcade in La Habra and already has a spot on Anaheim’s Euclid Street, where he plans to move his video machines and two pool tables when officials close the Fun Center.
Sellers, a student at Gilbert High School, said teen-agers won’t have “a place to go” when the arcade closes. “Wouldn’t they rather have us here than out on the streets?” She and another teen approached City Council members in August with a petition they said included 300 signatures. Council members, however, said the decision was left up to the principal.
Principal Maggie Carrillo said Friday that the arcade has been a problem since it opened, which, according to the city records, was Feb. 15, 1980. Carrillo said she was not opposing video arcades, but did not want one so close to the school.
Requests from neighbors and the school to close the arcade have been in the works for about four years, Poole and Carrillo said.
Despite complaints to the city, Anaheim Police Sgt. Vince Howard of the narcotics division said he had heard of no problems associated with the arcade.