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August 18, 2022

Sex club owner defends Forum

Deena Luce criticized Mayor Springer for calling her a
prostitute
While the City of Gilroy is ramping up for the second round of
its ongoing courtroom battle to shut down a private swingers club,
the owners and management are now speaking out about their rights
to assemble and other constitutional issues.
Deena Luce criticized Mayor Springer for calling her a prostitute

While the City of Gilroy is ramping up for the second round of its ongoing courtroom battle to shut down a private swingers club, the owners and management are now speaking out about their rights to assemble and other constitutional issues.

If Gilroy doesn’t back off in its attempt to shut the club down, the owner has vowed a lawsuit against the city.

“So far, we have only filed a response to the city,” said The Forum Adult Social Club Owner Deena Luce in her first interview since city officials, responding to pressure generated from news stories, began attempts to close the private club. “I’m not going to say that we’re going to sue the city or not. But if we do, it will be based on First Amendment issues.”

Eventually, more serious allegations are expected to arise.

Gilroy Mayor Tom Springer has inquired about the possibility of The Forum violating California penal codes relating to houses of prostitution and whether they should be applied in this case.

“This is all just complete and utter harassment,” said Luce. “And it ticks me off when Mayor Springer says I’m a prostitute. I am not a prostitute.”

On Sept. 23, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge turned down the city’s request to put a temporary restraining order on the club that would have forced its immediate closure.

“I’m happy with the decision,” said Luce. “The city is trying to say that we are causing the city irreparable harm, but we are not. We are not asking the community to come to the place. We are a private, membership-only social club. In fact, we’re bringing a lot of money into the city that no one seems to consider.”

But city officials believe the club is bad for the town’s image.

“Even though she claims her operation is bringing in revenues for our city, this is not the revenue that we’re interested in. Everyone is entitled to due process,” said Gilroy City Councilman Charles Morales. “But I think the process the city is going through is legitimate and I’m supporting it.”

On Nov. 12 the two sides will meet in a San Jose courtroom again for an order to show cause hearing, which the city hopes will result in a preliminary injunction on the property.

“At that time, the judge can order the business to cease until there’s a permanent

injunction on the property,” said Jolie Houston, the assistant city attorney who is handling the case for Gilroy.

Although nothing is etched in stone, if the club loses its fight to remain open on Nov. 12 it plans to file a case against the city.

“I haven’t seen anything or been served anything,” said Houston. “But if they want to file a lawsuit, go for it, I guess. Anyone can file a lawsuit. But will they be successful? I don’t think so, especially since all of their issues and defenses will have been argued at the order to show cause hearing. And we have case law that shows that these types of activities are not protected under the First Amendment.”

The club operates in a private ranch house at 5400 Monterey Road. It has been operating there every weekend since moving from unincorporated Morgan Hill Aug. 16, despite being told by the city to cease its operations. One night, two council members and the mayor sat near the driveway watching patrons come and go.

“We have issued citations out there every Friday and Saturday since we found out about it,” said Gilroy Planning Division Code Enforcement Officer Gregg Polubinsky.

So far the city maintains that Luce is operating the club without a business license and that she is operating in an area that isn’t zoned for it.

Arraignments for those citations will take place at the South County Courthouse on Oct. 15, 22, 29 and Nov. 6.

Despite all of the negative publicity, Luce claims that her club is not only operating in a business-as-usual mode but that it is thriving as well.

“This has not hurt our business at all,” she said. “And we are still planning to stay here, for the time being.”

Cuong Nguyen, who owns the property, has served club operators with a 30-day notice to terminate the lease, which is on a month-to-month basis.

Luce declined to comment on anything concerning her possible eviction.

The club 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.

Staff Report
A staff member edited this provided article.

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