City Goes Attacks Strip Clubs
In response to a new adult entertainment complex under construction in downtown
The latest in a series of developments involving the adult entertainment industry that has already cost the city nearly $400,000 over the past five years, the ordinance was penned by the City Attorney’s office at the request of the Black Hills Citizens for a Better Community.
It prohibits nudity, requiring at the least g-strings and “pasties.” It also imposes restrictions on peep show booths.
In August, the commission passed a resolution condemning nude entertainment, but did not appear to be further pursuing the issue.
“(Black Hills Executive Director) Judy Rose and her group have been working hard coming before us and giving us reasons for this ordinance,” said Second Ward Commissioner Rick Tormala. “They kept it alive.”
An industrial zone currently surrounds the Sennett Steel building at
Rose was joined at last Wednesday’s commission briefing by Dar Vander
“These people have way too much influence over the city commission,”
The commission appeared to be in support of the ordinance, but had some apprehension about enforcing it.
“We’re going to have to determine as policymakers whether or not to enact this,” Tormala said. “I respect the work that has been done and encourage that work that has been done so far, but we have a fiduciary responsibility to the general fund.”
The city recently lost a long court battle with the Velvet Touch adult book store, costing it $150,000 for legal representation and $125,000 to pay the attorney fees of Velvet Touch. Following that decision, in which the city’s Master Plan was deemed unconstitutional, the city was forced to amend zoning regulations to allow adult use — an additional cost of nearly $100,000, according to City Attorney Phil Balkema. That cost was to outside counsel Scott Bergthold of
Tormala said that after January’s public hearing, the ordinance likely will be tabled until the Black Hills group and the decency action council can raise the funds to finance the city’s legal defense against an expected challenge — which Balkema estimated to cost at least $100,000.
“I think if we have the cash on hand, they would be willing and able,” Jan Ellis said of the commissioners. Ellis sits on the
In a unique “Price of Government” model, the city is stipulating that it will be willing to pass regulations against private business if private funds are provided to enforce those regulations.
Tormala argued that the ordinance would not violate citizen rights.
“The majority of us try to balance constitutional rights with what’s necessary to maintain the kind of community the neighborhoods want in
He believes that many people don’t realize that the sex trade is a powerful business which exploits and denigrates people of both sexes. However, he did not say the businesses in question — most prominently Sensations, the Parkway Tropics at 814 Lake Michigan Drive NW and the Red Barn Adult Theatre at 928 28th St. SE — directly contribute to prostitution, but believes they do lead to the deterioration of neighborhoods.
“That’s primarily what
No business would be hurt more by the ordinance than the Parkway Tropics. Its main stage is at ground level and only about a dozen feet end-to-end. There is no stage access from the dressing room, so an all-but-complete renovation would be required to comply with the regulations.
The regulations are directly aimed at an establishment like the Parkway Tropics, which is nestled in a residential neighborhood. But in its 50 years in operation, it has had little apparent impact on that neighborhood.
“They’ve been a good neighbor,” said Tim Sluiter, community organizer for Southwest Area Neighbors. “From a crime and quality of life standpoint, it hasn’t had any effect on us.”
He noted that the last time there was an issue, involving the silhouette of a naked woman on signage in 2000, the club agreed with the association without argument, and painted on a skirt.
Later in the briefing, commissioners learned from
He didn’t believe that would be the case in
“I don’t think the city realizes what they’re getting themselves into,”