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Gitana gets one last ‘lifeline’

Connie Baker

Despite overwhelming evidence by city staff that their establishment

has become a severe problem to the community, the owners of a popular

restaurant and nightclub were granted the option of reviewing

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amendments to their conditional-use permit and asked to return before

the City Council next week.

The City Council tabled a hearing Tuesday night that could have

revoked the permit of Gitana, a sports bar and billiards hall.

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“We are 90% happy,” Gitana co-owner Robin Vandeveer said. “We

would have liked to walk away with our permit intact, but we are more

than willing to work with the city. We have already voluntarily shut

down the nightclub portion of our place, and with that, we are taking

a huge financial hit.”

After a planning commission’s ruling in July to recommend

revocation of Gitana’s conditional-use permit, the council instead

opted 4-1 to offer “a lifeline” to the controversial bar. The

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stipulations include a six-month sunset on the permit, changing the

closing time from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. and total exclusion of the club,

which was shut down voluntarily last weekend.

Vice Mayor Marsha Ramos was in favor of an immediate revocation.

“I’ve been very reasonable on this matter,” Ramos said at the

meeting. “It’s a very difficult and personal decision to make, but I

feel the nature of the business has changed, and I can’t support its

actions at this time.”

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According to staff reports, city planners and the Police

Department feel Gitana has become “detrimental to public health ...

so as to constitute a public nuisance” and that “police services are

required to respond to nightclub- related incidents ... in a

disproportionate amount of calls compared to other businesses.”

Police officials have been keeping a close eye on the downtown hot

spot since the city began billing the establishment for service calls

that are in excess of the three per month allowed under the

conditional-use permit.

Although a recent draft staff report indicated the Police

Department charged Gitana $7,271.15 to date for excessive calls and

that no payment has yet been made, city financial services director

Derek Hanway confirmed that a payment of $4,000 has been received and

an agreement of $500 a month to be paid on the balance has been

reached.

“The Police Department feels the city should revoke Gitana’s

permit,” Captain Gordon Bowers said prior to the meeting. “If

anything good can come of this, [Gitana] should start negotiations

for a new CUP and go back to the council with something fresh.”

Police records indicate Gitana has become an increasing problem

since late last year, responding to 73 calls including assaults with

a deadly weapon, fights and driving under the influence. In

proportion to the rest of downtown, at given times, Gitana is

representative of approximately 13% of all Burbank Police calls in

the downtown area, according to a Police Department report.

But there has been a decrease in incident calls in recent months,

Bower added.


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