Praising community activists for their help, local and state officials shut down a south Oxnard bar Thursday that had been a longtime neighborhood nuisance. Efforts by Neighborhood Watch groups and others expedited the closure of the Pancho Villa Inn, the site of numerous crimes ranging from underage drinking to drug dealing, authorities said.
“They’re saying that the activity here is not conducive to a safe, enjoyable community atmosphere,” said Assistant Police Chief Stan Myers, who was among local and state officials on hand for the closing of the bar in the 200 block of West Hueneme Road.
Bar owner Nicandro Luna’s liquor license has been temporarily revoked and if it is not transferred to a new owner, who is neither a relative nor an employee, a permanent revocation will take effect in 180 days.
State officials doubt the license will be transferred.
“Primarily, this place will be closed from this point on,” said Ed Macias, a supervisor for the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Luna declined to comment on his plans.
Cheering and carrying signs that read “Adios Pancho,” dozens of local residents turned out Thursday to celebrate the bar’s closure.
“You come anywhere near this place after dark and you’re taking your life into your hands,” said Russell Tracy, chairman of the Southwinds Neighborhood Council.
With the help of the Neighborhood Watch groups, police say they recorded scores of crimes in and around the bar in the last four years.
Sixteen-year-old Jason Malin was one of the most recent victims.
The youth was stabbed in the neck earlier this month by a man who had just left the Pancho Villa Inn. The man had walked to a nearby skating rink where he allegedly groped a 12-year-old girl. Jason was attacked when he came to the girl’s rescue.
Although the crime did not play a significant role in the suspension of the bar’s license, critics point to the incident as one of many reasons why the bar should be closed.
Jason and his mother, who live three blocks from the bar, joined activists Thursday at the closing.
“They don’t need any of these bars,” he said. “They need to close them all down.”
Two other bars in the La Colonia neighborhood have lost their liquor licenses in the past year because of similar nuisance problems. Although there were once 20 bars in the neighborhood, less than a handful remain today.
The closing of both La Michoacana bars in La Colonia last December has made the neighborhood safer, said local activist Vicky Gonzales.
“Once this is closed, you will see the results of your work,” Gonzales told the crowd assembled at the Pancho Villa closure. “You will see the fruits of your labor.”
Community activists say the closing serves as a warning to other business owners that allow crime to persist.
“We’re onto the next project,” Tracy said. “We have more work to do.”