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PACOIMA : Board Upholds Restrictions on Bar

The owner of a Pacoima bar failed to prove that zoning conditions imposed by the city to clamp down on public drunkenness and other problems would economically strangle her business.

During a hearing Tuesday before the city Board of Zoning Appeals, attorney Enrique Bin argued that Juana Bautista Tello, owner of the El Capri, could not afford to hire a security guard or limit the hours of operation. Bin also argued that Tello, who has owned the bar on Van Nuys Boulevard since 1968, was being unfairly blamed for rampant crime in the bar’s vicinity.

But board members voted to deny the appeal, saying the conditions are considered standard for businesses that serve alcohol.

“They are not unusual and not particularly burdensome,” said Katherine Diamond, the board’s chairwoman.

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The bar came under scrutiny by the city’s Office of Zoning Administration in 1990 after police and nearby residents complained of a host of problems, including public drunkenness, public urination, drug dealing and prostitution. The Ilex Street Neighborhood Watch group gathered 40 signatures on a petition seeking to have the bar shut down.

Daniel Green, an associate zoning administrator, said in an interview that efforts by police and homeowners led to a public hearing in December, where the bar was found to be a public nuisance. Green ordered Tello to meet a set of 30 conditions or face revocation of her authority to sell alcohol.

No one spoke against the bar during the hearing.

In a related action, the El Capri had its liquor license suspended for 60 days in February by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for serving intoxicated patrons. The department initially sought to revoke the bar’s license, but instead the license holder was placed on probation for 30 months, said Jim Smith, the ABC’s district administrator in charge of the San Fernando Valley. Tello is appealing the suspension.

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