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Burbank officials ponder response to 'Topless Maids' vans

October 10, 2012 | 11:00 am

 

Brightly colored vans advertising topless maid services and Thai massages are getting a lot of attention in Burbank.

One person who isn’t complaining is Topless Maids spokesman Sami Ammari.

“Oh my God, it’s been great,” Ammari said. “The phone does not stop ringing.”

The company, he said, had to turn down 100 clients last weekend because the maids were booked. And people have been flocking to his office to ask for his autograph and picture as the signs gain national media attention.

Burbank officials are brainstorming a possible regulatory response to the roving advertising vehicles.

“These are not attractive vehicles,” said Deputy City Manager Joy Forbes, adding that the vans began popping up in Burbank over the summer. “We think that coincides with the time that the Los Angeles ordinance became effective.”

She was referring to a Los Angeles ordinance prohibiting the mobile billboard ads on public streets, with violators subject to seizure. Burbank officials believe that ban has pushed the vans into Burbank.

In May, Ammari filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the Los Angeles ordinance.

“We’re not sure if [the ordinance] will withstand a legal challenge, so we’re carefully doing that research,” Forbes said.

In his lawsuit, Ammari alleges that the “irrational government interference” restricts him from engaging in “otherwise lawful and protected speech and commercial speech activity within the city,” and causes “irreparable injury to his liberty and property interests.”

Los Angeles denied the allegations in June.

“Assuming that a ruling one way or another comes out, it’ll likely provide some insight and guidance for the city of Burbank,” said Ammari’s attorney, George Wallace.

The advertising vehicles can now be found parked in major commercial intersections in Burbank, such as Olive Avenue and Riverside Drive.

“It’s been all over,” Forbes said of the Thai massage van.

Frustrating the city’s efforts is the fact that little is known about who owns the company, which makes bringing the vans into compliance difficult. City officials, though, say the vans are almost certainly not operated by a local company, and that they are not properly permitted.

Ammari said the company that owns Hot Topless Maids has a business license in Burbank, but declined to reveal the name. He estimated the company has about 200 vans in Southern California.

“We’re not criminals, we work hard,” Ammari said.

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-- Alene Tchekmedyian, Times Community News

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