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Feature Stories

Bar Reopening Stopped

From Issue:
1/1/1900


Steve Propes

Since early July, patrons of the Zodiac cocktail lounge at 3020 Woodruff Ave. have found it locked up and out of business. And that suits many of the neighbors, whose back fences on Shadypark Dr. are a flood control channel away from the bar's three parking spaces, just fine.

Among those nearby residents is Greg Nelson, 47, a business owner in the plastics distribution industry, who is leading the charge to keep a successor bar away from the site.

It was a never a good element. We had a crime problem in our neighborhood, and we had some drug problems, maybe two years ago. From that, we began working with the Long Beach Police Department's East Division and they informed us about the Zodiac. They had a long history going after the Zodiac over the same type of issues as Live Bait."

The California Department of Alcoholic and Beverage Control website (www.abc.ca.gov) indicates the location, operated by Rick Jason Boyer of Lakewood, was indefinitely suspended and the ABC license was eventually transferred to a bar in San Pedro.

Recently, Scott Terheggen, owner of the Rock Sports Bar on Wardlow Rd. at Long Beach Blvd. and three other bars in Laguna Nigel, Buena Park and Cypress, applied to the ABC to transfer an existing license to the location of the Zodiac. That application had the neighbors voice their opposition.

Terheggen, 47, of Foothill Ranch, doesn't dispute that the Zodiac was the source of problems. "Jason owned it for about four or five years. He had ABC violations, serving to minors and allowed minors and drugs in there."

According to a source close to the owner of building, the Zodiac was previously a "family bar," but when the owner passed away, his son took over and the problems began.

The ABC website showed various violations between 2002 and 2007, such as serving to minors, consumption after hours and conspiracy to commit a crime.

In October, Terheggen made an appearance before the Long Beach City Council as a way of helping the ABC approve his application. However, when a series of neighbors protested the plan, the council tabled the action for additional review.

At the time, Terheggen also expected to meet with the city attorney and resident representatives at City Hall. "We've volunteered to go to three different neighborhood association meetings, but they never responded. We are going to try to come up with conditions that will satisfy the residents and their concerns."

He spoke of 11 a.m. openings, erecting a sound wall and meeting with residents to hammer out an understanding in early November, however that confab was called off.

About the council meeting, Terheggen claimed, "If there hadn't been protests, it would have been approved right there."

"We don't have a problem with Scott," said Nelson. "We don't want any bar in our neighborhood. Let's move on from walk-in bars that do not meet the parking requirements."

The Zodiac was open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Nelson stated, "There was drinking and low-class people hanging out at 6 a.m. They don't sleep. Because there is no smoking inside, you'd get arguments, people taking off in their cars, coming down the back alley."

According to Nelson, since July, "there's been a dramatic difference in noise reduction since it's been closed. We used to think part of the noise was Los Coyotes Diagonal, but there was more noise coming from the Zodiac."

Terheggen responded, "It is zoned commercial, where a bar can be there. If I go away, there's nothing to stop the landlord from doing it again and again."

Nelson disagreed with this assertion. "If the council votes to send a protest to ABC for permitting that establishment, since the license is under suspension, it carries a lot of weight."

In fact, Terheggen did go away. After he found out the neighbors had cancelled the meeting at the city attorney's office, he stated, "I've withdrawn my application with the ABC, but the ABC says there's a one-year waiting period when there's not a bar. Then, if the owner of the center wants to put out a bar, he can. The City Council doesn't have control. Right now, the landlord is going to lease it as retail space."