Liquor License For Koreatown Restaurant Becomes A Key Issue In City Council Race

KOREATOWN (CBSLA.com) — A zoning administrator with support from the LAPD has recommended that the liquor license for La Défence not be renewed in part due to a history of problems.

The alleged problems include at least two reported rapes of women who had been at the the Koreatown restaurant and karaoke bar, several reports of assault, and an arrest for suspicion of drunk driving.

Recently, even one of the club’s strongest political allies in years past, City Council President Herb Wesson, has turned against La Défence this election year and opposes allowing the club to serve liquor any longer.

“I believe that this is a huge issue in this campaign,” said Grace Yoo, a community activist, who’s running against Wesson in the March 3 City Council race.

Yoo alleges, before his recent conversion, that Wesson ignored police complaints and crime problems for years, and his staffers often supported the club’s requests for longer hours and more-lenient rules.

“The city councilmember is not listening to the residents,” Yoo said.

Yoo continued: “The residents and the police officers have come out and said that this is a huge problem in the district, yet, the councilman, instead of siding with the police officers, he chose to side with a businessman who was breaking the rules.”

This week, the Los Angeles Times, reported the owners of La Défence contributed to Wesson’s 2007 council campaign, the same year the club was approved to serve liquor.

Wesson’s office said he was not available to do an interview on the subject, but he released the following statement:

“After a thorough investigation, I have been opposed to the renewal of the liquor license for this restaurant since September of last year. My office asked for a continuance to allow for appropriate due process for the appellant.”

A hearing on the issue is scheduled to be held Tuesday.

More from Dave Bryan
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