Pasadena Star News: Arcadia upholds giving sex therapist Susan Block’s internet studios the boot
The following article was published in the Pasadena Star News and L.A. Daily News on 9/29/21. Their first article contained more information about the situation. With both articles, we feel it’s important to set the record straight and tell the truth about some of the issues and occurrences referenced in the article, so that is what we have done here as well as here. The article is here in black, and our responses are in violet. ~Dr. Suzy and Max
Arcadia leaders on Tuesday night voted to uphold the business license revocation for internet studios run by Maximillian Lobkowicz and his wife, sex therapist Susan “Dr. Suzy” Block, out of a former home for the deaf.
The Truth Is…
They were more Arcadia lemmings than “Arcadia leaders.” They didn’t listen. They just circled the wagons around their own inspector’s lies and errors. It wasn’t a hearing. It was a Kangeroo Court.
The city revoked their license July 28 after a surprise inspection on July 22 revealed as many as 10 rooms with beds that appeared to be in use. The business license dictates that the compound may only be used for office work and storage –not as a place to live.
The Truth Is…
We don’t “live” here. For details, see LA Daily News article.
The couple appealed the revocation to the city’s Business Permit and License Review Board, essentially the city’s Planning Commission wearing another hat, which voted 4-0 to uphold staff’s efforts. Zi Lin was absent.
Lobkowicz and Block have 10 days to appeal again, this time to the City Council.
“We’re going to appeal, and then we’re going to appeal, and then we’re going to appeal,” Lobkowicz said outside council chambers. “And then, once we get that all done, we’re going to sue them.”
The business on Las Tunas Drive is leased by Saybrook Media Group, owned by the appellant, and hosts “The Dr. Susan Block Show,” which has been around in one form or another since 1984. It’s now available by podcast on I Heart Radio. A TV version of it was produced by HBO in the 1990s.
Lobkiwicz and Block claim no one lives at the residence, that occasionally they allow one of their many volunteers to sleep over after a long night in the 24/7 business. They said one such volunteer’s entire family came down with COVID-19 and rather than send him home to his family in West Covina, he slept there a few times.
Yes, the beds are sometimes napped on by the duo and volunteers. Block also does shows, which offer takes on pop culture, politics and sex, bedside and provocatively dressed.
However, Review Board members suggested that two things can’t be overlooked: the posting of an ad by Lobkowicz and Block in search of a live-in employee, and the word of a sex offender who came forward to register and said he was living at the business in question.
“When we say live in, we mean lifestyle, and we also mean that you’re available basically whenever we want, 24/7,” she said. “You could be at your house, but then you might have to answer the phone from your house because we’ll transfer the calls to your house, or we might ask you to come in with us for 24 hours.”
As for the sex offender, Block said that individual lied to them and the city.
“He worked a couple of days, and he stayed overnight once,” she said. “Then he goes, and it turns out he’s a sex offender. He didn’t tell us that; he gave us a different name. And he goes to the sex offender place and he tells them now he’s living with us. Then he disappeared completely.”
The city also believed it had evidence — provided by the sex offender — that the business was being used for a phone-sex operation, Lobkowicz and Block vehemently deny.
“My wife is a world-renowned author and writer, a graduate of Yale University and you want to defame her like that?” Lobkowicz said during the hearing.
Attorney Brandon Sanchez, representing the city, was quick to note that was not the reason for the revocation.
“The license wasn’t revoked due to any evidence of the phone sex business or an adult-oriented business, even though that was the initial indication from the person who came to the Police Department to register,” he said. “The bottom line was what was found was a residential use.”
He said the aforementioned ad strengthened that notion.
“When we inspected, we confirmed that it was indications of residential use where there were 10 bedrooms, nine of them well-lived in,” said Sanchez, who added that even if the board found the business was not also being used as a residence, it wouldn’t change things.
“They still deviated from their floor plan, which these bedrooms were meant for storage and office use, which they were not currently used as,” Sanchez said. “That’s a violation of their conditions of approval, and that’s an independent basis to uphold the revocation.”
The commissioners seemed to have no doubt that the 10 bedrooms were being used for residential purposes.
“I’ve seen offices with a bed, but this has 10,” Review Board member Vincent said.
The Truth is…
We have 12-15 beds (actually mattresses) here, some of which we store and some we use for shows and resting. What difference does it make if we have 1 or 10 or 20 mattresses? Since when is a mattress a contraband item? As you can see from City Attorney Brandon Sanchez’ statement, the City has been throwing anything they can think of up against the wall, hoping that something would stick. First, they freaked out over a painting of Marilyn Monroe topless; then they said we didn’t have enough parking spaces; then that we could do a radio show; then they accused us of running a hotel; then they came up with their own plan and gave us a business license that they then took away. I’m leaving out a lot of their whiplash-causing actions, but you get the idea.
In a nutshell, Ron Betty — attorney for Block and Lobkowicz — denied all allegations by the city.
“They operate a business where they work 24/7. They’re updating a website. They’re doing online YouTube shows,” Betty said. “But there’s no phone sex business operation out of this business; no one lives at the business; no one resides permanently at the business.”
The Truth is…
Mr. Betty is correct. We may be an unconventional business, but we are law-abiding citizens and these officious city officials should leave us alone so we can contribute to Arcadia’s health and prosperity, and they can use the city’s limited resources to concentrate on real problems.
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