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Torrance church wants new strip club gone

January 9, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Parishioners at a South Bay congregation are up in arms over a new strip club opening in their neighborhood. Church members have started a petition drive opposing the new club. The Bay Girls Gentlemen's Club is set to open next week. It's less than a mile away from the Calvary Chapel South Bay.

Placed at a site where it will get maximum exposure, operators of the Bay Girls Gentlemen's Club, adjacent to the Harbor Freeway, say it's the perfect spot to open a Vegas-style business.

"There's an appropriate area for every business. For us this is very appropriate," said "Andy," one of the club's business partners, who did not want to appear on camera. "It's commercial, it's warehousing."

The congregation of the Calvary Chapel is not holding back: 3,000 members signed a petition demanding to know why there are now two strip clubs within a mile and a half of each other, with the church right in the middle.

"I don't see anything that could be positive with a strip club, a totally nude strip club -- nothing good," said Calvary Chapel's Pastor Rob Stoffel.

Two L.A. County supervisors are calling for a review of the permitting process. But it appears the club followed the law.

Supervisor Don Knabe says he fought the initial application when it was filed three years ago. Apparently the church didn't know about any public hearing

"There was no one that appealed that decision to bring it to us to try to deal with," said Knabe.

Mark Ridley-Thomas is calling for a review of zoning regulations.

"The law ought to be written in such a way that it limits how many, how much, et cetera," said Ridley-Thomas.

Stoffel says he sees lives hurt by such clubs through exploitation of women and men who struggle to have healthy, loving relationships.

"There's nothing happy about it, they're not joyful about it, they can't get out of it," said Stoffel.

The club response is that it's located in a district of warehouses and light industry with no schools nearby. They are complying with all restrictions.

"If it's an appropriate place for a church, I think it's more appropriate for us. If we're going in that battle, who should be where, I think we're in a good place," said "Andy."

"We'll sit down and talk and pray, and see what God would have us to do," said Stoffel. "I mean, only God knows."

The staffs of the supervisors are closely reviewing the club's application and making sure everything is legal.

If not, Ridley-Thomas said he is not averse to asking the club to re-submit and restart the process that took three years to complete.