In response to the shooting at the Hookah Lounge that left one person dead and several others injured the Mayor, John Valdivia is calling for the business to be shut down permanently. The business, which had apparently been operating without a valid business license, has already been red-tagged by the City even though the San Bernardino Police Department has not released the scene yet.
“It is still an active investigation site,” said Sgt. Equino Thomas, PIO for the department. Thomas could not give a timeline as to when the site would be released by investigators.
The website for the Exclusive Hookah Lounge in San Bernardino has no contact information and no pictures or descriptions of what was there at the location in terms of services. A description from Wikipedia says, “A hookah lounge is an establishment where patrons share shisha from a communal hookah or from one placed at each table or a bar. In Western countries, shisha parlors are often owned and operated by people from the Arab world or the Indian subcontinent where use of the hookah is a centuries-old tradition. A hookah, shisha, or waterpipe is a single- or multi-stemmed instrument for heating or vaporizing and then smoking either tobacco, flavored tobacco, or sometimes cannabis, hashish, and opium. The smoke is passed through a water basin—often glass-based—before inhalation.”
“Is this a place young kids should be after midnight? You have eleven, twelve, 13 year old kids out at two-three in the morning – where are the parents? Mayor John Valdivia of San Bernardino asked.
If we had more officers and more patrols from the police department we could be proactively dealing with situations like this, but the council has consistently denied my requests for more funding for the police department,” said Valdivia.” We need to make changes in the city council and get rid of those who are in lock step with the progressive defund the police movement.”
Valdivia went on to say that the City is looking into how they can quickly proceed to fix the problem and that he had engaged the City Manager and City Attorney and was calling for shutting down the Hookah Lounge immediately and holding the violators accountable including the business owner and property owner.
Phil Bensinger, a local commercial real estate investor and developer who was reached at the International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Las Vegas said that he understood punishing the nuisance business but did not see how you could hold the overall strip mall owner accountable for not knowing the business was operating without a license. “Knowing whether or not a business is properly licensed and in operations legally is the responsibility of the City, not the property owner.
Another real-estate professional that preferred not to comment on the record, noted that had they owned the center they would never have leased a portion to a hookah lounge because they are similar to head-shops, and pot shops in that they tend to attract, “the wrong element.”