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FIGHTS AT HALLS RISING BANQUET SITES MAY BE CLOSED.

Byline: Naush Boghossian Staff Writer

GLENDALE - Concerned about a rash of violent incidents at local banquet halls, the city officials have asked a committee to examine ways to improve security and management at the facilities.

During the past two months, police have responded to 11 brawls in which unruly crowds of 150 to 500 people had to be brought under control.

The calls have required 44 man-hours and more than 101 officers, and have resulted in 10 arrests for disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, assault and assault on police officers.

``The problem is we need to have some checks and balances to make sure we have quality (event) operators. Most of it has to do with the operators not doing a good job of running the facility, and that's all there is to it,'' Mayor Bob Yousefian said.

City officials said an ad hoc committee created two months ago will re-examine the number of halls in the city and their locations. It will also consider sanctions that include suspending or revoking operating permits at halls with repeat problems, revising security requirements at each hall, and imposing fees in cases where police are asked to respond.

The committee, which includes the city's planning director, zoning administrator, a former municipal planner, and police and fire personnel, expects to submit a report to the City Council in early fall.

The problems have been frequent in recent months.

For example, 17 officers and a police helicopter responded to a Sept. 4 fight that erupted after a man was seen taking a gun out of a woman's purse.

``These incidents, sometimes happening at the same time, deplete field resources and restrict our ability to adequately respond not only to those incidents but also to the rest of the community,'' Capt. Mark Distaso said.

City Manager Jim Starbird said the growing number of incidents is a ``disturbing trend'' because when large numbers of officers respond to one scene on a Saturday night, it nearly depletes all the officers available on that shift.

``We recognize there's a need and role for banquet halls in Glendale based on the makeup of the community,'' Starbird said. ``But as in any community it's a resource that has to be managed so that the city isn't having to commit resources at the expense of the rest of the community.''

There is a high demand for the city's 17 banquet halls to accommodate large gatherings, including wedding receptions and parties, generally thrown by its Armenian, Latino and Asian communities.

Many of the venues are adjacent to residential areas, creating noise, crowds and litter, leading to quality-of-life issue for residents and a public safety issue for the community.

``These are problems that are typical when you get a significant number of people together for any length of time and there's alcohol involved,'' Distaso said.

Naush Boghossian, (818) 546-3306

naush.boghossian(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 10, 2004
Words:480
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