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Panorama City : Market Agrees to Hire Armed Guards

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The owners of a convenience store in Panorama City have agreed to employ two armed guards during operating hours as a condition of selling liquor from the market.

The decision pleased leaders of the Panorama City West Neighborhood Assn., who for the past year have lobbied for greater security measures at the store as a condition of selling alcohol there.

Located on Parthenia Street, the store and its parking lot were the source of trouble in the neighborhood prior to the civil unrest of 1992, police and residents said. During the riots, the store was looted and torched.

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Owners Roy and Jeff Muchamel decided to rebuild. After reopening, the Muchamels faced opposition when they applied for a new liquor license. Residents and police both said crime in the area had decreased markedly while the store was closed.

Residents argued that if the owners were granted a new liquor license, they should be asked to adhere to certain conditions, such as posting armed guards on the premises, prohibiting sales of individual bottles of liquor and reducing the hours of operation.

The Muchamels sued the city after zoning officials agreed to uphold some of those conditions.

In May, the city revised its position, requiring the Muchamels to hire only one, unarmed guard. Despite the city’s reversal, the district Alcoholic Beverage Control board, citing public complaints, denied the Muchamels’ liquor license application.

In the minutes before an Aug. 14 hearing on the license before an administrative law judge, the Muchamels and Ronald A. Litt, an attorney representing the residents association, reached an agreement on the conditions, including hiring two armed guards, who will work staggered shifts to provide security during all operating hours.

“We’re confident it will be safer for the neighborhood,” said Leslie Yamashita, director of the association.

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