Thursday, August 16, 2007

RJ's Liquor County Hearing

See the article below from today's Star-News on RJ's Liquor. If you have concerns about liquor store problems in Altadena, you can make a difference by attending the hearing on Wenesday, Aug. 22, to express your views or by contacting our county supervisor:
Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich
Fifth District, Los Angeles County
500 West Temple Street, Room 869
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 974-5555

Pasadena Star News
Store Owner Speaking Out
Namkung says business unfairly targeted for crimes
By Mary Frances Gurton Staff Writer
Article Launched: 08/15/2007 11:15:14 PM PDT

ALTADENA - An Altadena liquor store owner under fire from neighbors and sheriff's officials for allegedly allowing unsavory people to loiter around his business said Wednesday he is being unfairly targeted.

Benjamin Yoons Namkung, 50, who owns RJ's liquor store in the 100 block of East Woodbury Road, said he has met numerous times with city and sheriff's officials in an attempt to allay their concerns and comply with their requests for changes at his store.

"I feel that I have been unfairly treated," Namkung said. "Sometimes sheriff's deputies pull someone over for something down there," he said, pointing to a long fence east of the store. "There is no street number on the fence, so they put in my store's address."

About 113 residents living near the store have signed a petition citing various complaints and forwarded it to the Los Angeles County Business License Commission. In addition, Capt. Roosevelt Blow of the sheriff's Altadena Station wrote to the commission about alleged problems involving RJ's Liquor, including several arrests made in front of the store, Blow said Wednesday.
As a result, the commission has scheduled a public hearing on Namkung's business license. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Wednesday in Room 374A of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. Sheriff's officials from Altadena, residents and Namkung will have a chance to present their sides to the panel.

Namkung's business license is up for renewal at the end of this month. Blow said since he transferred to the Altadena Station in April he has received multiple complaints from residents regarding gang activity and loitering outside the store. From June of last year to June of this year, deputies have responded to 137 incidents at the store, Blow said. Deputies also have made several arrests in front of the store, he said. On June 22, deputies arrested a man sought on a felony warrant in front of RJ's, the captain said. In April, deputies dispersed a group of juveniles loitering outside the store, Blow said.

But Namkung said he has complied with officials' previous requests for changes, including removing shelves that had blocked deputies from having a clear view into his store. He also does not sell gang attire like colored bandannas. Namkung also installed a large "No Loitering" sign in his store's front window, which warns that loiterers will be prosecuted. The owner said he installed a new gate about a year ago to keep people from hanging out at the rear of the building, as well as a 10-camera security system that monitors the store 24 hours a day.

"Every time people try to hang around I call the police," said Namkung. "You got to understand this neighborhood. People know each other, and if they run into each other, they might stand around and chat. Then they leave." Nicole Comas, 38, who said she lives in the area, said residents should take into consideration Namkung's efforts to change the environment around his store. "He's being ridiculed for the entire neighborhood," said Comas. "I don't know why they think that closing the liquor store is going to rid the neighborhood of crime. The neighborhood was like this long before Mr. Namkung came here."

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