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LA HABRA : Bikini Bar in Mall Rejected by Council

The City Council has unanimously upheld a Planning Commission decision denying a permit for a bikini bar--the subject of dozens of complaints by residents who contend the proposed establishment would be morally wrong.

Steve Smith had proposed opening a nonsmoking bar featuring bikini-clad dancers and servers, as well as pool tables and video games for customers 17 and older. Smith’s attorney, Joshua Kaplan, argued that denying the permit would be unconstitutional.

Kaplan said the bikinis would be no different from those worn at the beach.

“There (would) be no exposure to any portions of the female anatomy or sexual activities,” he said, adding that his client would provide two uniformed security guards and surveillance cameras to keep the business under control.

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Smith had hoped to open “La Habra Polo Grounds” in a shopping center at the northeast corner of La Habra and Harbor boulevards.

Councilman Juan M. Garcia said La Habra is a “community that really does care, and I’ll be darned if I’m going to let that type of business in that particular location regardless of constitutional rights.”

Local businesses and the Chamber of Commerce opposed the bikini bar. So did more than 2,000 residents who signed a petition against it.

“We don’t need this kind of garbage in our city,” Paula Larson said. “This is the type of business that breaks down the family unit that La Habra represents. This is a type of pornography that we . . . refuse to have in our city.”

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“You go from cutesy and cheesecakey to hard-core every time,” resident Pamela Shurilla said at a public hearing. . “Where is Mr. Smith’s conscience? Where is his heart?”

Smith declined to comment.

Residents said the bikini bar issue has pulled the community together. “We wish to unite our city against this ridiculous evil,” Carrie Votaw said.


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