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Taylorsville diner suffers law's first bite

When city officials put new teeth into Taylorsville's nuisance abatement law last September, they intended to crack down on gang activity, drug traffic, prostitution and other illegal activities.

Tan Huznh Ho, who runs the Pho 99 noodle house at 4187 S. Redwood, has become the first Taylorsville businessmen to feel the fangs.After taking a series of actions aimed at evicting Ho from his rented premises and withholding his 1998 business license, the city has offered a settlement that will allow his restaurant to remain open.

But Ho will have to agree to keep gang members away and confine his business to selling food.

Mayor Janice Auger said the city expects Ho and his attorney to accept the settlement offer before an eviction hearing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in 3rd District Court.

"But we do have several stipulations they must accept," she said.

Those stipulations include:

- Not allowing a gang presence in the restaurant and "actively dispersing" any gang members if they come there.

- Agreeing to regular health department inspections and city audits of certain restaurant records.

"We will also ask surrounding business to keep us informed" about any unusual activities at Pho 99, the mayor said. "There have been two shooting incidents there over a relatively short period of time, and that's what has the neighboring businesses alarmed."

Auger also said the city will not give its approval "for a state liquor license of any kind."

Ho had a Class B beer license, she said, but lost the permit following an after-hours party where wine and champagne reportedly were served to minors.

Taylorsville has invoked the toughened nuisance ordinance on renters involved with drug and gang activity a half dozen times since the council put new teeth in it last September, she said.

In those cases, landlords were contacted and told to evict the tenants, bring them into compliance with the law or face legal action.

But Auger said this is the first time that the nuisance law has been applied to a local business.

"Our message is that we have a zero tolerance for gang hangouts and liquor violations like selling to minors or selling products for which they don't have a license," the mayor said.

The first shooting at Pho 99 occurred last May when an after-hours party at the restaurant erupted into a battle between two rival gangs. Three youths were wounded.

A second shooting took place in November when a carload of gang members pulled up to the restaurant and opened fire in an apparent effort to gun down rival gang members. One youth was wounded in that shooting.

City officials audited the restaurant's operations in December, arresting Ho after he admitted scheduling private parties with live entertainment despite the fact he is not licensed to run a dance hall.