The owner of an adult bookstore won his latest battle against the city Tuesday, but he has more ahead as he pursues plans to transform the peep-show arcade into a "nude juice bar" where patrons would watch exotic dancers while sipping nonalcoholic beverages.
On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge C. Robert Jameson rejected the city's effort to shorten the hours at A-Z Books. It now runs 24 hours on weekends and until 2 a.m. on weekdays.
"We got what we wanted," said Roger J. Diamond, the attorney for A-Z owner Waldon Welty.
But Diamond said the hours of the bookstore will become a moot issue if Welty wins approval for his plans to turn the place into Orange County's largest "nude juice bar." That will be considered by the Planning Commission on Thursday night.
In a report to the commission, city staff members have recommended denial of the project based on inadequate parking spaces, parking-lot circulation and failure to comply with the city's General Plan.
In addition, the staff report refers to a recently completed study by two UC Irvine professors, who concluded that adult businesses lead to lowered property values, increased crime and other secondary effects.
Since it opened in 1980, city officials and Welty have been involved in a series of lawsuits over hours, doors on booths and other issues.
City officials contend that loitering, cruising and solicitation frequently occur at A-Z. Undercover police investigations have turned up lewd conduct both in the parking lot and in booths where snippets of pornographic movies are shown.
Diamond agreed this week that lewd conduct sometimes occurs in the booths, but he said the nude juice bar will attract a different clientele. Many of the problems, according to Diamond, are caused by men who frequent a nearby gay bar and will not be interested in watching nude women.
Diamond disputed claims that the bookstore has bothered neighbors.
"The argument that it's disrupting the neighbors is ludicrous because it's on a busy, major thoroughfare, and it's not impacting any neighbors," Diamond said.