Nightlife mogul Steven Edelson, the wealthy operator behind the renovated Los Globos club, has filed a $10 million claim against the city of Los Angeles, West Coast Sound has learned.
The claim comes after the LAPD stripped Los Globos of its live music permits in October, though it has since resumed holding shows. Neighbors had complained about the partying.
See also: Los Globos Nightclub Shut Down
“They seem to be pretty hell-bent on stopping any form of fun in the city of Los Angeles and in Hollywood these days,” says attorney Todd Winter, Edelson's corporate counsel.
The story here resembles, perhaps, an extremely bureaucratic version of Footloose. Edelson purchased Los Globos in 2011, with plans to attract a younger, hipper crowd. He wanted to better utilize the space by hosting shows on the first floor, but was consistently rebuffed by the city.
“We're not saying that they can't have [parties on the first floor], we're just saying that they need the proper permits to have it,” says Building and Safety Public Information Officer David Lara.
That's exactly what he's been trying to do, Edelson says. But he believes the city isn't playing fair. Various agencies have been giving him the run-around, he alleges, not dispensing permits even after he's done what they've asked. In June, when building inspectors were expected to resolve the permitting confusion, they instead cited Los Globos for a violation. In a letter to city officials, Craig Smith, one of Edelson's attorneys, described the inspection as a “sand-bagging.”
Edelson believes inspectors had made up their minds to write the citation ahead of time. His proof? An email that Edelson's camp obtained via the California Public Records Act, in which Inspector Frank Lara (David's brother) discusses Los Globos with Inspector Andrew Longoria, writing, “After we observe the unapproved use and issue an order…”
Inspector Frank Lara didn't return messages, and David Lara, the Building and Safety spokesman, would only say that observation of a violation is (obviously) necessary for a citation to be issued.
Through all of this Edelson and his attorneys have obtained massive amounts of documents through the California Public Records Act. One finding: the office of Eric Garcetti, who is running for Mayor, seems to have devoted a huge amount of attention to Los Globos. Shortly after Edelson took over in late 2011, Garcetti's field deputy Ryan Carpio sent out an email to LAPD, Building and Safety and ABC, writing: “I just wanted all departments on this list to flag and perhaps take some action on the Los Globos Nightclub.”
And in another email, from April 2012, Carpio wrote: “Since a new operator has been at Los Globos, we've received numerous calls regarding the following: after hours drinking, excessive Noise from the club, lack of parking, to name a few. Can we tackle this possible nuisance business on all sides?”
Carpio would not comment, but Garcetti's Communications Director Diego de la Garza says that the emails were inspired by complaints from locals. “Nothing ever originates from our office. It always comes from something in the neighborhood,” he says.
A major point of contention is Los Globos' right to party all night long. As the L.A. Times reported last year, Los Globos is able to legally keep its doors open throughout the night on weekends under a dance and liquor license that was grandfathered in from the building's early days. (They can not serve alcohol between 2 and 6, however, similar to venues like Avalon.)
“Our constituents are concerned about the after-hours,” says de la Garza. “We have to do what our constintuents are asking us to.”
But not all neighbors are upset. Juliette Tworsey, a musician who previously lived in the area, contacted Los Globos after getting emails from the Silver Lake Neighborhood Watch that she felt were over the top. “It seemed like they were trying to rally people in the neighborhood to find reasons to complain about them,” she says.
Winter, Edelson's corporate counsel, charges that many noise complaints these days come from the same homeowners who helped make Sunset Boulevard an entertainment destination back in the '60s. “And now they're old and now they don't want to hear any of the noise…It's pretty ironic.”
Mitchell Frank, another major nightlife force in Los Angeles whose clubs include the Echo and the Echoplex, was one of the locals who was concerned about Los Globos, according to Eric Garcetti's office. In addition to operating clubs, Frank is the president of the Echo Park Chamber of Commerce.
Says Frank in an email: “There is always a concern with any new operation that they adhere to the applicable rules and regs.”
Captain Robert Franz, from the Los Angeles Fire Department, gives Edelson credit for upgraded fire alarms, and seems to have some sympathy with the difficulty of dealing with so many different inspectors. “It's a big bureaucratic thing because it's such a large city.”
For Edelson it's much more simple: city officials have it in for him. “They just don't want to have dancing on Sunset Boulevard in that area, and they don't want unrestricted night clubs, and they're just against the whole thing,” he says.
If the city can't reach an agreement with him in his current claim, he's ready to battle. Late last year he told Los Angeles Magazine: “I have $50 million ready to defend myself for whatever the city throws at me.”