CITY HALL — City officials on Friday padlocked a controversial Montrose banquet hall to bar it from operating, but its owner vowed to continue fighting the city.
City officials in June filed a complaint against the Montrose Collection Restaurant and Banquet Hall for allegedly operating without proper permits, citing an earlier April court ruling that the city had the right to revoke the zoning exception that had allowed the banquet hall to operate.
In July, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William Stewart said he would not consider the city’s request for a preliminary injunction — a court mandate to stop violations of municipal code — against the restaurant until an appeal of the April ruling was settled.
But this week he ruled to grant the temporary injunction after the City Council approved an urgency ordinance expressly mentioning the city’s right to petition for a legal injunction to remedy code violations.
In response to the injunction, city officials padlocked the restaurant’s doors on Friday. The restaurant will be closed until at least Nov. 19, when the next court hearing is scheduled.
“We do very fortunately have it closed at least until Nov. 19, hopefully until they somehow get legal permits,” said Chief Assistant City Atty. Mike Garcia.
Restaurant owner Armen Aivazian vowed to fight the injunction at the next hearing.
“This is temporary, and I am going to fight them,” he said. “They are going to lose in the end. I’m sure they are going to lose.”
Friday’s development is the latest in a longstanding dispute between the city and the Aivazians, who have repeatedly appealed negative city zoning decisions and filed a slander lawsuit against neighbors who complained publicly about the impacts of the banquet hall. That lawsuit was eventually dismissed.
The current legal battle began when the City Council revoked the restaurant’s parking permit in March 2009 and the zoning certificate a few months later, saying there was insufficient parking for use as a banquet hall, which city officials said was not allowed at the restaurant.
City officials said the restaurant would have to return to its size before a 2006 expansion and apply for new operating permits.
The Aivazians have repeatedly countered that they should be grandfathered in under less demanding parking requirements.
The Aivazians’ attorney, Derek Tabone, claimed Friday he can now prove the city approved the banquet hall use on a prior building permit.
“I think there is a whole lot of bad faith on the part of the city, shutting down a business they authorized to expand,” he said.