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Planning Commission recommends clarification to adult entertainment zoning ordinance


Last updated 1/4/2007 at Noon

The County’s Planning Commission has recommended a clarifying amendment to the adult entertainment portion of the county’s zoning ordinance.

The existing ordinance defines an adult bookstore, adult novelty store, or adult video store as a commercial establishment which has a significant portion of its for-sale stock, derives a significant portion of its revenues, devotes a significant portion of its interior business or advertising, or maintains a substantial section of its sales and display space for the sale or rental of material emphasizing specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas. The amendment would define “significant or substantial portion” as 25 percent or more.

The adult entertainment ordinance was originally passed in 2002. That ordinance removed the commercial C36, C37, C40, and S87 zoning areas as potential sites for adult entertainment establishments and limited adult entertainment establishments, other than those grandfathered, to parcels with M50, M52, M54, and M58 industrial zoning. Adult entertainment establishments may not be within 500 feet of a residential area, 600 feet of a school, church, or public park, or 1,000 feet from another adult entertainment establishment. The ordinance also prohibits total nudity, requires a six-foot separation between the performers and customers, mandates that performers be on stage, prohibits performers from touching customers, and prohibits customers from directly tipping performers. The ordinance also includes notice to all property owners within a 1,000 foot radius.

Two separate lawsuits, which were consolidated by the US District Court, challenged that the ordinances violated free speech provisions. In June 2005 the court ruled in favor of the county with regards to the zoning, hours of operation, open booths, tipping ban, and proximity and stage provisions. The court found that the administrative permit process was overly burdensome and that some elements of the licensing requirements did not serve a substantial purpose, and in December 2005 the county supervisors amended certain licensing and permit process provisions.

None of the prohibitions or requirements of the existing ordinance would be changed by the amendment, which is meant to clarify the definition of “significant or substantial portion” and provide guidance for compliance with the law. The Planning Commission’s 6-0 recommendation, with one member absent, will be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors for official approval.


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