Planning Commission OK's go-go dancers for nightclub (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Mayor Fernando Vasquez says he has directed the city manager and city attorney to investigate ways to repeal yesterday's Planning Commission decision regarding go-go dancers at a Downey nightclub. "I was shocked and outraged by the events that occurred yesterday," Vasquez said. "We are a city of values that holds good character in high regard. This sends the wrong message to our Downey families."  

DOWNEY -- Going against the recommendations of Downey Police and city planners, a majority Planning Commission on Wednesday night gave preliminary approval to a nightclub's request to use go-go dancers on a probationary basis.

Club DB Lounge also was given permission to serve alcohol in its outdoor patio, but was denied a request to install valet parking and stay open until 4 a.m.

The use of go-go dancers was the most controversial issue, with the nightclub having tried twice before to have the dancers approved but with no luck.

This time, however, planning commissioners said Club DB Lounge deserved an opportunity to incorporate dancers into its business, but with a string of conditions that will be determined at an Aug. 20 meeting.

"I fundamentally disagree that this will take Downey in a negative direction," said Commissioner Matias Flores. "The evidence doesn't support that."

"I am not blinded by the term 'go-go dancer,'" said Commissioner Louis Morales. "I'm open to the idea."

Commissioner Hector Lujan also said he was open-minded regarding go-go dancers, provided they weren't overly sexually suggestive.

"We gotta keep an open mind," he said. "As long as it's done tastefully."

Commissioners Robert Kiefer and Jim Rodriguez questioned how regulations on go-go dancers would be enforced, and whether it would set a precedent for other Downey late-night businesses.

"I see a tremendous amount of risk to the city of Downey," said Rodriguez. "It doesn't seem congruent with the city's general plan."

"The vast majority of residents do not want this," added Kiefer. "And our police department is not equipped to handle large, Hollywood-type nightclubs."

In a staff report, city officials said they surveyed local cities and found that as nightclubs evolved and expanded their live entertainment options, "the clientele changed from mostly local residents to persons from outside the local area. With these changes came an increase in criminal activity.

"With this came overcrowding and conflicts within the clubs, when patrons begin competing for the dancers' attention; as well as creating conflicts outside the clubs, with numerous incidents involving patrons following the dancers out to accost them in parking lot areas."

Police officials also noted that Club DB Lounge received 31 "calls for service" between April 4, 2013 and July 9 of this year. Among those calls was one robbery, five assaults, three fights, one theft and three disturbances.

Representatives for Club DB Lounge, however, said crime at its establishment has decreased significantly since 2011, and it has developed a comprehensive security plan that includes metal detectors, 50 security cameras, full-time bathroom attendants, and more.

Security will escort go-go dancers to and from the dressing rooms, and to their cars.

Club officials also noted that the city employed midriff-baring dancers at its World Cup viewing party Sunday.

The vote to allow go-go dancers was 3-2, with Kiefer and Rodriguez dissenting. A final reading was scheduled for Aug. 20, where commissioners are expected to set guidelines on outfits, work hours and other conditions.