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Anti-Gay Flyers Linked to Letters From Studio City Residents Group

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Times Staff Writer

A mystery flyer that urges homeowners to rid Studio City of “homosexuals, transvestites . . . and social sickness groups” has prompted allegations of harassment by gays and a call for a community showdown meeting by city officials.

Hundreds of the flyers--attached to a Studio City Residents Assn. newsletter--have been mailed to selected neighborhoods in the affluent community at the southeastern edge of the San Fernando Valley.

The flyer asks residents to pressure the Los Angeles City Council to “eliminate perversion” by closing “businesses that attract non-desirables” to Studio City.

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Leaders of the Studio City Residents Assn. have denied knowledge of the flyer, although they admit that it was stapled to their newsletter and apparently sent to names on their mailing list.

But homosexual leaders charged Monday that the mailer is merely the latest in a series of attacks by the homeowner group on gay and adult-oriented businesses in Studio City.

“We’re afraid it’s going to escalate into a very serious confrontation,” said John Maceri, president of the Valley Business Alliance, a 10-year-old homosexual business organization.

“Dealing with an all-out assault on gay businesses is one issue. But the broader issue is whoever is mailing out this kind of information is not realizing that a very large percentage of the constituency of Studio City are gay people who are very offended.”

Meeting Set for Tonight

City officials said Monday that they agree. Representatives of three City Council offices hastily organized a meeting scheduled tonight between homeowner leaders and gay business owners in hopes of defusing the dispute.

“It’s a situation we want to see resolved. It’s not healthy,” said Larry Kaplan, chief deputy to Councilman Mike Woo. “Whoever did this flyer is expressing homophobia.”

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Kaplan said representatives of Woo and Councilmen Joel Wachs and John Ferraro have been asked to attend tonight’s closed-door meeting, to be held at Woo’s Studio City field office.

According to Kaplan, about 15% of Studio City’s residents are homosexual, a concentration that is surpassed locally only by West Hollywood and Silver Lake. “My impression is they feel they’re being harassed by the Studio City homeowners association,” he said.

The gay-bashing charge was denied by Polly Ward, president of the 1,000-family residents group.

“We have a lot of members in our group who are gay,” Ward said Monday. “Many of my neighbors are gay. We don’t want to tick them off.”

Ward speculated that the flyer was sent to neighborhoods with high concentrations of homosexuals to discredit her group. She said the newsletters are normally assembled and mailed monthly by association volunteers.

“It’s a dirty trick. Last week was a busy week for dirty tricks,” she said, referring to last week’s embarrassing leaked memo written by campaign strategists to Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky.

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“Maybe somebody wants to get a war going between gays and straights. That’s what I want to avoid,” she said.

Ward said she plans to discuss possible criminal violations stemming from the unauthorized use of the newsletter in a meeting today with the Los Angeles city attorney’s office.

She acknowledged, however, that her group has led the fight to close several adult-oriented businesses along Ventura Boulevard.

Earlier this summer, the group successfully opposed extension of an operating permit for a Le Sex Shoppe adult bookstore. This month, it opposed extension of a similar permit for the Corral Club, a homosexual bathhouse.

Community Opposition

“We believe we can win the battle once and for all to rid our community of this kind of establishment,” a recent newsletter stated. It called for community opposition at a city zoning administrator’s hearing held Aug. 8.

According to Ward, an association strategy meeting on the Corral Club held earlier this summer “was infiltrated by a transvestite--a man dressed as a woman with makeup and everything.”

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The fate of the Corral Club’s permit extension request remained up in the air on Monday. An associate city zoning administrator has taken the application under submission.

Barrett S. Litt, an attorney for the Corral Club, said the bathhouse has been a quiet neighbor for 20 years and deserves to remain in business.

Litt said the flyers are “outrageous . . . fairly hysterical opposition.”

Maceri said his group hopes to show Ward’s group that it should avoid “getting involved in issues of morality, not development.”

“I think that clearly if any business has an impact in a negative way on a community, residents have the right to ask questions,” Maceri said.

“But the fine line has to be drawn: What is public domain and what is a private issue?”

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