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OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The owner of a Nevada brothel may file a lawsuit against the City of Oakland after his billboard promoting one of his establishments was taken down after complaints from city leaders and neighbors.
“I think it’s a sad day in America when a City Council personal can take down a sign for a restaurant and a bar,” said Dennis Hof, owner of the Bunny Ranch.
After neighbors and two members of the Oakland City Council complained, the ad company decided to remove the bright pink sign featuring Hof. Left behind is a sign for last month’s BottleRock Napa music festival.
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Hof is best known for the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, a brothel that he also owns.
“Several times the ad company told us they were just advertising the restaurant, but we all know better,” Oakland City Councilmember Libby Schaaf told KPIX 5.
While the bar is located a mile from the brothel, Councilmember Noel Gallo said, “That’s a poor excuse.”
Schaaf and her team organized neighbors to call the ad company to take it down.
Meanwhile, Gallo confronted Hof himself. “He’s out of line, he’s out of place and he needs to choose to do business somewhere else,” Gallo said.
But Hof is taking his business somewhere else, to federal courts.
“I’ve hired First Amendment lawyers and we’re looking into it getting all the details. And if they made a mistake, they’re going to pay,” Hof told KPIX 5.
The Bunny Ranch owner said Oakland should focus on its own problems.
“You’ve got sex problems, sex trafficking everywhere in Oakland, worry about that. Clean up your own neighborhood before you worry about a guy who has a restaurant bar sign,” Hof said.
KPIX 5 legal analyst Paul Henderson said the Bunny Ranch’s association with the brothel will come into question in court. “His brand is closely associated with the activities which are illegal, that the courts would interpret that to be the same thing,” he said.
Henderson said this could be an uphill battle for Hof, but the businessman said he will be back.
“I will open up a Bunny Ranch Bar and Cigar in Oakland, I promise you that,” Hof said. “See what the councilmen think. I will buy them lunch in fact if they want.”
KPIX 5 reached out to Adco Outdoor, the company that owns the billboard, but our calls were not returned.