Garden Grove Denies Adult Video Permits : 'Peep Show' Licenses Denied to 4 Bookstores; Decision on Fireworks Ban Delayed Until Oct. 10

The city of Garden Grove has put off a decision on banning fireworks but denied special "peep show" business permits to four bookstores that feature adult movies.

The City Council, which has been considering joining other Orange County cities in outlawing fireworks, voted Tuesday night to hold a public hearing on the matter Oct. 10.

In the case of adult movies, the council denied peep show permits to four businesses on Garden Grove Boulevard, setting up what is likely to be a new round of legal battles.

Claim They Breed Crime

City officials have long sought to regulate adult peep shows, claiming that they breed crime. According to City Atty. Stuart B. Scudder, the areas around adult bookstores have a much higher crime rate than other sections of the city or other areas of Garden Grove Boulevard.

Garden Grove's peep show ordinance, originally seen as a way to bring the businesses under stricter control, was first passed in 1983 but has been the subject of numerous lawsuits and revisions.

That ordinance now requires, among other things, that there be no doors on the booths where the X-rated films are viewed, that there be 42-inch aisles and a clear view of the exit from the booths, and that the booths have fireproof walls. The permits are required in addition to a regular business license.

After the recommendations of a hearing officer, the council voted to deny permits to A-Z Books, Garden of Eden Bookstore, Hip Pocket Book Store and the Adult Bookstore. A permit will be issued to The Party House and conditional approval of a permit was also granted to Bijou Film Classics and Video Rental and Review Center if they comply with the peep show ordinance, officials said.

The latter two businesses will be given 90 days to comply. All of the adults-only businesses involved in the permit appeal process are on Garden Grove Boulevard.

Exits and Fireproof Walls

City officials said that permits were denied to the businesses because they lacked everything from adequate exits to fireproof walls.

Roger Diamond, an attorney representing four of the firms denied permits, complained after the vote that if "the citizens of Garden Grove knew how much this is going to cost, both in legal costs and lost tax revenue, they'd be up in arms."

He added that the next step was to "order a transcript of the hearing and review our options." The vote will not close the adult bookstores that house most of the video arcades, although Diamond said that the revenue lost would be "substantial."

On the proposed fireworks ban, Mayor W.E. (Walt) Donovan said that community groups that hold permits to sell fireworks will be officially notified of the public hearing.

Garden Grove's Fire Department supports the ban, while some civic and youth sports groups oppose it, citing the need to raise money for community activities. Tuesday's action was the second postponement of the issue. The matter was originally scheduled to be considered Aug. 21, and again on Tuesday.

The issue came to the council as the result of recommendations by the city's Neighborhood Improvement and Conservation Commission, responding to a request from the Orange County Grand Jury. Garden Grove is one of six cities in the county that allow the sale of fireworks. The others are Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Orange and Santa Ana.

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