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Revoking permit is the right thing to do

The Burbank Planning Commission did the sensible, responsible thing

for public and police safety, and for taxpayers’ wallets, by voting

to recommend that the conditional use permit for Gitana Restaurant be

revoked.

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The commission on Monday voted unanimously to tell the Burbank

City Council that the permit should be taken away from the nightclub

at 260 E. Magnolia Ave., almost solely because of the excessive

number of fights and police calls there in the past nine months.

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If the City Council votes to revoke Gitana’s use permit, the

nightclub probably would be forced to close, since a permit is

required to legally operate a business of that type in Burbank.

Perhaps closing, at least for the time being, wouldn’t be such a

bad idea for Gitana, because what’s been going on while the

nightclub’s been open hasn’t exactly been earning the business a lot

friends, save for those who like to fight there. After several months

of simply absorbing the cost and hassle of making several calls per

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month to the restaurant, responding to reports of fights, the Burbank

Police Department in May began billing Gitana for service calls

beyond the three per month allowed under its conditional use permit.

“What we’re trying to do is prevent a homicide,” Burbank Police

Capt. Ed Skavarna told the Planning Commission. “We do not like the

situation, and do not want it to stay as it is.”

Gitana was billed $6,779 for 63 excessive police calls from

October through May, an average of nearly eight more calls per month

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than allowed under the club’s CUP. Club officials, many of whom

attended the commission’s meeting on Monday, protested, saying the

fights in question usually happen outside the club, not in the

building itself. “We don’t have any problems inside,” owner Jackie

DeLeon told the Planning Commission on Monday. “All the problems are

in the parking lot, and some in the patio.”

Maybe so, but it’s not because people randomly walking by stroll

onto the patio and parking lot and start picking fights. It’s because

people in Gitana, or perhaps coming into or going from it, get into

some kind of tiff and decide to square off, with alcohol usually

playing a big role. And it’s not as though the patio and parking lot

are across the street and down the block. They’re both adjacent to

the main building. When you’re sitting on Gitana’s patio, you’re at

the restaurant. Servers come out and ask you what you want. It’s part

of the business. So DeLeon’s argument is pretty specious.

More to the point, three police calls per month for any

establishment is a lot to begin with. That number is built into a

conditional-use permit to accommodate a worst-case scenario at one

spot, usually involving bad luck and bad timing. Gitana’s public

safety problem has blown through the acceptable-limit ceiling and now

is a regular monthly issue, not an unfortunate series of

coincidences. Despite club representatives’ assurance that things are

getting better, they clearly are not. Six police calls were required

there in June -- three more than allowed under the CUP -- and three

in the first two weeks of July, with the second half of the month not

reported yet. If those numbers are considered an improvement by club

officials, it’s an improvement from “horrible” to “really bad.”

The City Council should decide quickly that Gitana now constitutes

a public nuisance, and follow the Planning Commission’s

recommendation that its conditional-use permit be revoked. Closing

the doors, letting some time pass, and reopening a few months down

the road with a new name and unsullied reputation are perhaps the

only things that will solve this problem.


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