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Billiards Hall Owner Disputes City’s Claim Over Hours of Operation

Published on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 | 3:55 pm

The owner of a local billiards hall appealing a decision on the hours of operation of his business told Pasadena Now on Tuesday the ruling could set a dangerous precedent.

“If the City can come after Crown City Billiards then no legal non-conforming business is safe,” said Francisco Yanez, owner of Crown City Billiards which operates as Jerry’s Billards on Lake Avenue. 

Yanez is appealing a ruling that limits the billiard hall from operating from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The business is a nonconforming use and is not required to operate under a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). 

Non-conforming use rights are given to properties that have purposes that do not conform to the use regulations for the zoning district in which it is located. Many of them were established before a CUP was required. 

“At the time the business was opened there was no such thing as a business permit for that,” said James Lawson, who described himself as a planning nerd and a friend of Yanez. “Operating a Billiards Hall was by right. There actually is a pool hall permit.”

Lawson said that when he filed a PRA, the City did not respond with a pool hall permit. 

The pool hall abuts against a residential neighborhood which is used to determine the hours of operation in that area. According to the City, the owner has not provided documentation proving that the City allows the business to operate from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m and on a 2017 code compliance certificate Yanez indicated in writing in 2017 that the business hours would be from 9 am to 10 pm.

The approved hours of operation are consistent with the zoning code which allows a business to operate between 7 am and 10 pm by-right when the site is within 150 feet of a residential zoning district. 

The business has received at least one citation for operating after 10:00 pm. 

According to Yanez the issues began after he reopened after his business was deemed non-essential during the pandemic. 

“I shut down for two years,” he said. “I have always been open until 1 a.m. What we want is the city to acknowledge there are no restrictions on hours and legal non-conforming business.” 

Yanez would need a Conditional Use Permit to operate between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. So far no application for a CUP has been submitted.

At a November 17 meeting, the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) reviewed an appeal on the matter. 

A motion was made to continue the hearing to a later date to allow the owners of the City to reach out to local stakeholders, including neighbors to discuss noise, trash and illegal activities and work towards “potential solutions and a compromise to extend business hours, according to a City staff report.

“Codes and statutes either mean something or they don’t,” Lawson said.

The Board of Zoning Appeals will hear the matter at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

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