Art Gallery Can Stay, Anaheim Council Decides


An offbeat Anaheim art gallery Tuesday won its bid to stay open in an industrial zone.

Overturning a ruling by the Planning Commission, the City Council voted unanimously to grant the co-op gallery's request for a permit to operate in a small warehouse, even though planners had said it is not consistent with the city's redevelopment plan.

"We talk a lot about supporting the arts, and here's our chance to do it," said Councilman Tom Tait before the vote, which grants the gallery a two-year operating permit.

"I'm a little surprised," said gallery founder Richard Johnson. "I'm quite happy. I think they realize they need art."

At the gallery, AAA Electra 99, the motto is "Any Art Accepted." Pieces range from conventional watercolors to the bizarre, such as "Incredible Chicken Baby," a doll's head atop a plucked and lacquered chicken. Artists pay $25 to lease wall space on which they may hang just about anything, including three-dimensional displays.

The operating permit limits outdoor events and service of alcoholic beverages.

The gallery, which started in Newport Beach in 1997, is also a performance center for musicians and a meeting hall.

It moved to Anaheim several months ago when its building in Newport Beach was leveled for a parking lot. Johnson found the northeast Anaheim site and moved in, but officials have been reluctant to issue the necessary permit. Planners said the gallery does not fit with their idea to redevelop the area as a high-tech business center.

"We're not bothering our neighbors," Johnson said earlier, adding that most of them signed a petition supporting the gallery. "There's really no reason for us not to be here."

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