"Parking lot fetish"
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
October 4, 2004
For several years, topless bar owner Rick Rizzolo has been trying to
make his neighbor move out so he can expand his bar. His methods have now
centered on his parking lot.
Sticker placed on legally-parked neighboring business customer's cars
Since 2002 when he bought the industrial center that houses his bar
and a neighboring auto garage, Rizzolo has resorted to illegally towing
vehicles owned by Allstate Auto customers, along with other
less obvious methods of trying to encourage his neighbor to go away. The
"harassment" has occurred so often that garage owner Buffalo Jim Barrier
took Rizzolo to court on several occasions to recover towing and repair
costs, and has a multi-million dollar harassment lawsuit
pending jury trial in 2005. The trial has been postponed several times
due to an ongoing federal
racketeering investigation of Rick Rizzolo, his family, and associates.
Its a car repair business,
of course there will be cars parked there over night. They are not in and
out in one day always. It would be nice if they were... I'm going to find
for the plaintiff... Why don't you guys negotiate a parking agreement instead
of trying to enforce one that is not enforceable, something that you both
can agree to, and adhere to a certain portion of the parking lot that could
be Mr. Barrier's. --
Judge Ann Zimmerman, May 17, 2004
Judge Zimmerman's ruling had no effect on Rizzolo, and the illegal towing
continued. "He just pays the judgments and keeps on towing," said Barrier.
"He's trying to scare away my customers and employees."
In response, Barrier's attorney Gus Flangas filed a motion for a Temporary
Restraining Order. On August 25, Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth
Gonzalez made an interpretation of Barrier's lease and advised Rizzolo
that he must allow Barrier to have seven permanent parking spaces.
COURT ADVISED it will
make an interpretation of the parking regulations, as follows: This is
a long-term storage issue. Mr. Barrier may park a maximum of seven vehicles,
which must be currently registered and licensed. A list of those vehicles
is to be provided to Mr. Rizzolo in order that the independent security
company can be notified. --
Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez
But that didn't stop Rizzolo either! Within hours of Judge Gonzalez'
ruling, "VIOLATION" stickers were applied to the windshields of Allstate
customer's cars that were legally parked adjacent to his business.
"What will it take to teach him that I'm entitled to park my customer's
cars next to my business 24/7?" stated an angry Barrier.
Buffalo Jim Barrier (KVBC
Barrier's lease clearly states: Tenant, for the use and benefit of
tenant, his agents, employees, and customers, shall have the nonexclusive
right in common with landlord and other and future tenants... to use all
designated parking areas during the entire term of this lease.
When Rizzolo bought the center, he agreed in writing
to honor Barrier's lease including the parking provisions.
"What part of 'nonexclusive right in common with landlord to use
all designated parking areas' doesn't he understand?" quizzed Barrier as
an employee of Rizzolo stuck yellow stickers on all his customer's cars
no matter where they were parked. "The guy just has no respect for the
law," Barrier scowled.
'VIOLATION" sticker on SUV in entrance to garage
"VIOLATION" sticker on car parked in front of garage office
Though the yellow "VIOLATION" stickers are placed on Allstate customer's
windshields during regular business hours, Rizzolo waits until late at
night, after the garage has closed, to tow them away. Also, on several
occasions, Allstate customer's tires have reportedly been punctured with
an ice pick during nighttime hours. This has caused Barrier to employ a
security guard to watch his seven court-ordered parking spaces at night
and on weekends. The guard is instructed to not interfere, but to take
photos and write down names and other details of the illegal tows for later
use in court.
"I've been in this same location since 1976, and this only started after
Rizzolo bought the center in 2002," stated Barrier. "I've never seen anything
so chicken shit in my entire life! If he wants me to move, why doesn't
he act like a man and buy out the remaining five years of my lease instead
of acting like a punk?"
(L to R) Ralph Rizzolo and attorney
Jon Norheim listen
as Rick Rizzolo points to Barrier's
(Photo by Buffalo Jim Barrier)
You'd think Rick Rizzolo would have more important things on his mind
right about now. He's expected to be indicted within the next several months.
In the meantime, Barrier describes him as having a "parking lot fetish,"
saying that he only concentrates on annoying his neighbor instead of trying
to clean up his own act, or preparing to defend himself against federal
criminal charges. Rizzolo's bar, the Crazy Horse Too, has been the repeated
scene of reported beatings and robberies involving bar employees, two as
recent as August, 2004. Most happened after hapless patrons refused to
pay inflated bar tabs.
"They spend more time watching my parking lot than they spend minding
their own business. They're obsessed with me," says Barrier, a former pro
Crazy Horse patron's cars block
emergency access to bar
It goes without question that the Crazy Horse needs more parking. In
1999, Rizzolo's friends
on the City Council let him expand
his bar by 6,000 square feet without providing more parking or obtaining
building permits. This caused bar patrons to park in an adjoining residential
neighborhood which inspired a law suit against the City of Las Vegas. So
its now very obvious that any Allstate Auto customer's car parked overnight
is taking up a space desperately needed by Rizzolo. But that's not Barrier's
problem. The City should never have allowed the expansion without additional
parking in the first place, and if Rizzolo so desperately needs Barrier's
seven spaces, he should buy out his lease instead of trying to tow
him out of business.
On Thursday, September 30, Ralph Rizzolo, Rick's brother, was observed
sitting for several hours in a black Corvette parked near Barrier's business.
That evening, a car owned by a customer of Allstate Auto was illegally
towed. Unbeknownst to Barrier, the customer's car had expired Nevada plates,
something Judge Gonzalez said would not be allowed. Rizzolo had evidently
become aware of the expired plates and parked his Corvette in front of
the car to block its view from the garage until after closing hours when
it could be towed away unchallenged.
Even though that vehicle's plates had expired, a previous court order
stated that Rizzolo was required to place a "VIOLATION" sticker on any
car he intended to tow 24 hours before towing occurred. That did not happen
in this case.
In 2002, after leasing for twenty-one years with adjacent parking, Barrier
discovered official LVFD "Fire Lane/No Parking" signs posted on the side
of his garage. When several regular customers accidentally parked in the
newly posted space, three tow trucks suddenly appeared on the scene while
Rizzolo and several men watched and took photographs from behind a dumpster.
Later that day, Barrier photographed the same space being used by Rizzolo
as a valet parking lot with no sign of the tow trucks. He called the Fire
Department to complain.
The following morning, City of Las Vegas Fire Inspectors Stickler and
Paul visited Barrier's business and removed the signs. They told witnesses
that the fire lane belonged on the other side of the alley. However, that
same afternoon, Inspectors Stickler and Paul returned, and to Barrier's
dismay, re-mounted the signs. When questioned, one Inspector reportedly
said, "Mr. Rizzolo is politically influential." The next day, a six-inch
wide red stripe was painted around Barrier's business along with orange
cones and saw horses displaying additional No Parking warnings.
It was later determined that the area was not qualified to be a fire
lane because of electrical transformers blocking passage of emergency
transformers block "Fire Lane"
The August 30, 2004, INSIDE VEGAS article
on the subject was hand delivered to Las Vegas Fire Chief David Washington.
The following day, the LVFD signs were removed by City Fire Department
Official signs removed
Replaced with homemade signs
But that didn't discourage Rizzolo! He brazenly had his own signs painted
that resembled the official signs, and placed them back on Barrier's wall.
Needless to say, the homemade "Fire Lane" signs carried no weight with
the Fire Department, but Rizzolo didn't seem to care. His towing practices
continued while Crazy Horse valets parked bar customer's cars in his homemade
"Fire Lane" at night.
On February 2, 2005, Judge Gonzalez will conduct a Declaratory Relief
hearing to clarify both party's rights in the lease. In the meantime, attorney
Flangas is preparing a Show Cause motion to bring Rick Rizzolo before the
court to explain why he should not be held in Contempt.
Because Rick Rizzolo is one of the most generous political campaign
in the state of Nevada, it will be interesting to see if his repeated disobedience
of court orders causes him to pay a criminal penalty. Meanwhile, business
has never been better at the Crazy Horse and at Allstate Auto.
The author is a former Clark County
Regional Transportation Commissioner
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