Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Time to Have ‘The Talk’ About Adult Entertainment Businesses

There’s nothing like a good council discussion about “adult entertainment businesses” to make your average Minnesotan blush. That’s right, we’re talking about strip clubs or nude dancing, adult movie theaters, storefronts selling pornography, and their various incarnations.

But the time to talk about ordinances that will help your city manage the impact an adult business could have on your community is before one even moves in, according to LMC staff attorney James Mongѐ.

“Once it’s open, you’re going to have trouble regulating it because it’s already there,” said Mongѐ.

Are your ordinances ready for an adult entertainment business?
It’s a complex task—protecting First Amendment rights while putting safeguards in place to deter negative side effects on the community.

There is no one-size-fits all solution or sample ordinance that will work for all Minnesota cities.

“It can be complicated to regulate them, because obviously books and movie theaters are protected by the First Amendment. Also the United States Supreme Court has ruled that nude dancing involves some expressive conduct that is entitled to protection,” says Monge. “As a result, city ordinances that regulate adult businesses need to be content-neutral.”

On the other hand, research has shown that these types of businesses can spur increases in blight and neighboring vacancies, crime—especially prostitution, sexual transmitted diseases, and a decrease in property values.

“Every city needs to be thinking about how to minimize the negative secondary effects of these businesses,” said Mongѐ.

Cities like Rochester have prepared themselves with content neutral ordinances that protect First Amendment rights while addressing these secondary effects. Zoning, rules that regulate proximity to other businesses or institutions like schools, and licensing processes are all legal when crafted properly, according to the United States Supreme Court, and consistent with the “significant government interest” of preventing those secondary negative effects.

If your city hasn’t put in place ordinances to manage the arrival of an adult entertainment business, or you think it may be time to review the rules already on the books, a new information memo is now available to guide you through the process. View the PDF here: http://bit.ly/1bWBHFV

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