Palmdale to Settle Suit, Drop Effort to Close Adult Store

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Palmdale has agreed to settle a legal battle over its efforts to close the city's only adult book and video store in a deal that reportedly will allow the controversial outlet to remain open.

David Brown, an attorney representing Sunshine Gifts & Things, said Friday that Palmdale has agreed to settle a federal court lawsuit brought by the store's owner last November.

"It's been settled and my client is pleased with the settlement," Brown said.

Brown said he could not comment on details of the settlement. But a Palmdale city official confirmed Friday that the agreement permits the store to remain open. That would represent a setback for the city and local anti-pornography activists who crusaded for its closure.

Attorneys for the city and N.L. Management Co., the store's owner, are scheduled to discuss the subject in a telephone conference Monday with U.S. District Judge William M. Byrne in Los Angeles. A court order dismissing the lawsuit could be filed later in the week.

Palmdale City Atty. William Rudell said Friday that he would not comment on any agreement with the store. He said, "Until the judge has approved the settlement, there is no settlement."

The legal battle over the store had not gone well for the city. In June, Byrne issued a preliminary injunction that allowed the store to remain open and expand pending a trial that had been set to start last Tuesday. But that date was postponed for settlement talks.

In his ruling, Byrne said he found evidence of "improper censorial motives" in the City Council's unanimous Feb. 26 decision denying newly required business operating permits to the store. The store is in a run-down commercial strip about two blocks from City Hall.

City staffers found that the store met the city's requirements to obtain the permits and remain open. But the council, spurred by more than 500 anti-pornography activists, voted to shut it down. The next day, the city closed the store for five hours, but then relented pending the trial.

The preliminary injunction meant that Byrne had concluded that the store's owner had shown a likelihood of winning the case.

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