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SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — San Jose may be the capital of the Silicon Valley, but these days it’s looking more like the Bay Area’s new sex capital.
The city has seen a jump in the number of so-called “bikini bars” or cafes that San Jose Police said are actually sex or strip clubs.
With undercover cameras, KPIX 5 recently visited the Galaxy Bar and Restaurant on McKee Road in East San Jose. Businessmen, bachelors, boyfriends and husbands were seen paying $70 cover charge and another $20 for illegal lap dances.
At another restaurant called Chot Nho Café on McLaughlin Avenue at Story Road, video showed waitresses being paid extra to take off their bras or panties and serve up $8 smoothies.
City leaders said the so-called sex cafes are a “cancer on the city.”
Police said these clubs first cropped up in 2008. At the time, an East San Jose restaurant defended its right to hire waitresses wearing bikinis and lingerie.
By 2011, nudity was common and the competition increased. Businesses upped the ante by pressuring servers to strip down and table dance. There were as many as 30 bikini bars.
Police said they were hampered by budget cuts that led to dozens of police officers being laid off. Pay cuts caused many more to quit.
San Jose Deputy Police Chief Phan Ngo said, “We simply can’t have these types of activities here at the coffee shops. I mean they bring blight to the neighborhoods. And they invite other crimes.”
In 2012, San Jose saw its first bikini bar murder at Alo Restaurant and Bar. Two men were arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of another man in the parking lot.
To curb the activity, police sent out letters fining business owners and landlords thousands of dollars for repeated code violations such as smoking, tinted windows and nudity. The tactics resulted in the shutdown of half a dozen bikini bars.
San Jose City Council Member Xavier Campos told KPIX 5, “We need to have the Vice Unit back up and working specifically to deal with these restaurants and cafes.”
For Ngan Trinh, it’s too late. Her husband Chinh Nguyen was killed in August when a gunman sprayed the Hoang Hon Bar and Restaurant with bullets. Trinh said her husband, an engineer at Juniper Networks, played it safe, going to the bar on a Monday night, thinking it was safer than going on the weekend.
Trinh said the cafes are dangerous and wants them regulated even more. She said she does not tell her daughter her father has died, but that he’s gone to the moon.
“I told her that because I want her to think of him every time she looks at the moon,” Trinh said.
To date, of the 30 cafes in San Jose, 10 are now following the rules.
San Jose Police said they will keep up inspections of the Galaxy Bar and Restaurant. The restaurant declined KPIX 5’s request for comment as of Thursday night.
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