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New adult store ordinance approved


Last updated 2/15/2007 at Noon

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a clarifying amendment to the county’s adult entertainment ordinance.

The supervisors’ 5-0 vote January 31 defines “significant or substantial portion” as 25 percent or more of a store’s sales and display space. The 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 adult entertainment ordinance was originally adopted 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 businesses, other than those grandfathered, to land 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 business. 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 directly tipping performers. The ordinance also requires notice to all property owners within a 1,000 foot radius if an adult entertainment business is proposed.

The ordinance was challenged on the grounds that it violated free speech provisions, but in June 2005 a Federal court ruled in favor of the county with regards to the zoning, hours of operation, open booths, tipping ban, proximity, and stage provisions. That court decision 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.

The new amendment clarifies the definition of “significant or substantial portion” in order to provide guidance for compliance with the law. The revised ordinance does not change any prohibitions or requirements. Because the adult entertainment ordinance is part of the county’s Zoning Ordinance, no second reading is needed and the change was effective immediately.


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