Forum wins first challenge

Judge declines to issue temporary restraining order, Gilroy
officials vow to continue crackdown on sex club
A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge dealt the City of
Gilroy a minor blow in its battle to shut down a new sex club on
the city’s outskirts on Monday.
Judge Jamie Jacobs-May refused to sign the city’s request for a
temporary restraining order, which would have forced the club’s
immediate closure.
Judge declines to issue temporary restraining order, Gilroy officials vow to continue crackdown on sex club

A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge dealt the City of Gilroy a minor blow in its battle to shut down a new sex club on the city’s outskirts on Monday.

Judge Jamie Jacobs-May refused to sign the city’s request for a temporary restraining order, which would have forced the club’s immediate closure.

“We argued it extensively and we were very close to getting it, but you have to show immediate irreparable harm to the city itself,” said Gilroy Assistant City Attorney Jolie Houston. “We knew it would be hard to get one because of the threshold. This is based on a zoning violation. It’s not like the building was collapsing. With this case, there were a lot of factual issues that come into play.”

Located at a private ranch house at 5400 Monterey Road, The Forum Adult Social Club has been operating every weekend since moving from Morgan Hill Aug. 16, despite being told by the city to cease its operations.

“We have issued them eight citations so far,” said Gilroy Planning Division Code Enforcement Officer Gregg Polubinsky. “Two every weekend for the last four weeks. They are operating without a business license and they are operating in an area that’s not zoned for it. Even if it was zoned for it, they have not gone through the architectural site review process. I have been here for two years and I can’t think of a single business that has moved in and operated without pre-approval.”

So far, the club appears to be operating in a business-as-usual mode, though its operator has declined interviews since one with The Pinnacle in August that made its move to Gilroy public. On its current Web site (www.forumx.net) mention is made of its ongoing issues with the city.

The homepage of the Web site reads in part, “…the Forum has run into a problem with its new location. The issue (ostensibly) has to do with a technical zoning issue…The Forum maintains that it is a private club and not technically a ‘business’ by standard definition. Further, the Forum’s hours of operation do not conflict, harm, or interfere with any other of the surrounding businesses…”

Although the request for a temporary restraining order was denied, the city will have another chance to present its case on Nov. 12 at Superior Court in San Jose.

At that time an order to show cause hearing will take place for a preliminary injunction on the property.

“At that time, the judge can order the business to cease until there’s a trial for a permanent injunction,” said Houston.

In the meantime, arraignments will take place at the South County Courthouse in San Martin on Oct. 15, 22 and 29 for several of the citations that have already been issued to the club’s owners and manager.

Deena Luce, a resident of Los Banos, operates the club. She was unavailable for comment.

Gilroy officials put a positive spin on the latest ruling.

“I do not see this (Monday’s ruling) as a setback at all,” said Gilroy Mayor Tom Springer. “They just weren’t prepared to look at the issue at this time.”

The Forum is open Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. and charges between $40 and $60 for admission. On Friday nights, it is open to singles and on Saturday nights the club caters to couples with a swinging lifestyle.

Prior to relocating to Gilroy, it operated for nine years out of a private residence near Tennant and Railroad Avenues in an unincorporated area near Morgan Hill.

While the zoning and business license issues surrounding the case will be litigated in civil court, eventually the case could wind up in criminal court.

Springer has inquired about the possibility of The Forum violating California penal codes relating to houses of prostitution and whether or not they should be applied in this case.

“This would be considered an adult business, but we haven’t gone there yet,” said Polubinsky. “I am only concerned with licensing and zoning. I haven’t looked into what’s going on inside the house.”

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