Obscenity Panel Urges County to Find a Way to Close Bondage Club
The Los Angeles County Commission on Obscenity and Pornography is urging the county to search for some legal method to close down Club Chateau, a sadomasochism parlor that moved from Hollywood to a former bakery in North Hollywood in March.
In a letter to the Board of Supervisors, scheduled for review at Tuesday’s board meeting, the commission asks that a county committee be formed to investigate the bondage-and-discipline club and the action by Los Angeles city authorities in August granting it a zoning permit, the first of its kind.
“This is a first and we’re going to see what we can do to stop it,” commission President Dolores I. Nason said. “Otherwise, it’ll just mushroom. This kind of thing seems to be very popular.”
County supervisors have no jurisdiction over city zoning decisions, and a preliminary review of the city’s approval turned up no legal problems with the permit, county attorneys said.
“We researched it and as far as the zoning goes, they are in full compliance,” said Deputy County Counsel Rosanne Wong. “Unless they have actual evidence that something illegal is going on, they cannot just pull their permit.”
However, Wong said county supervisors could ask the city to take a closer look at the permit process, or they could urge changes in city, county or state ordinances and laws to prohibit such establishments.
The 26-year-old commission, an advisory body with no power of its own, has 15 members, all appointed by the supervisors. It has frequently taken on issues outside the county government’s jurisdiction. It successfully lobbied for state legislation that made possession of child pornography a crime and won the closure of an X-rated movie theater in Long Beach located near homes and a school.
Club Chateau owner James Hillier said the commission’s recommendation is a political maneuver.
“They have to find somebody to attack,” he said. “This is an election year and that’s all this is. . . . They have to drum up some issues and create some controversy.”
The club, where an estimated 4,000 members pay $100 a half-hour to indulge fantasies of beating or being beaten by young women, is located in a mostly industrial area north of Sherman Way.
Hillier moved his business there in March after city officials determined that its former Hollywood site was within 500 feet of a residence, violating the city’s adult entertainment ordinance.
The decision to grant a permit for the club, made by a city zoning official, was never appealed to the City Council by opponents, to the surprise of many of those involved.
A representative of a religious publishing company--the club’s closest neighbor and a leading opponent of the zoning permit--said his firm had hoped that the public would initiate an appeal.