Neighbors claim Heights bar is a nuisance

November 17, 2009 2:12:10 PM PST
A resident in the Heights says a local bar is nothing but a nuisance, and the fact a couple of people were shot outside this past weekend is way too much. She claims police aren't doing a thing about it, but authorities say that's not exactly the case. That shooting this weekend happened at La Bola Loca. Neighbors say they warned police it would happen eventually, but the Houston Police Department says they've not been able to back up the complaints.

"My best guess is that it's less than 150 feet," said Ellen Sprovach, whose home is that close to the bar.

Sprovach says the cantina, literally around the corner from her Heights home, is the neighbor everyone dreads. La Bola Loca has she and her neighbors complaining to HPD and the mayor's office over the last 18 months.

Her neighbor even went in undercover at the request of the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission.

"So we went in there about 3am one morning. There were prostitutes and they propositioned us. So it was real straight forward. There was no secrecy behind it. It was pretty clear what was going on. We bought beer at 3:30am in the morning like the TABC requested that we do," said Josh Judd.

Sprovach added, "Being told that there are drug dealers there and watching what looks to be drug activity is pretty scary."

Things even got scarier Sunday morning. Two men were shot outside La Bola Loca, both in the head. One was transported in serious condition, the other grazed in the face by a bullet.

Sprovach says it was bound to happen, but the bar's manager says it's an isolated incident.

"There is no prostitution, there is no drugs, nothing," said Martin Arguta.

He helped open the club more than seven years ago. He says complaints from nearby residents has cops paying regular visits.

"If this place had prostitution, it would be closed already, because we have visits from TABC, the police very often. They checked, everything is OK," said Aguta.

HPD says after receiving the emails they tried to bust the bar, but have found nothing.

"We have not ever stopped giving this club our attention. The fact of the matter is we have been unable to discover any of the illegal activities alleged by the reportees when we've went out there, in either an undercover capacity or in a uniformed capacity," said HPD Captain Mark Holloway.

In the meantime, Sprovach says she will just keep documenting what she sees.

"It's extremely frustrating because we are doing what we are supposed to be doing and no one is paying attention," said Sprovach.

Captain Holloway says the cantina was shut down for several days last year for some minor code violations involving improper electrical and plumbing work, but it reopened after reaching compliance. As for the shooting over the weekend and a possible motive, HPD says they cannot comment on current investigations.

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