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Council Tightens Ordinance Limiting Adult Businesses

October 22, 1998|HARRISON SHEPPARD

Worried that a sexually oriented business may open, the City Council on Tuesday night tightened up the city ordinance restricting such businesses.

An unidentified person requested an application for an adult-oriented business Oct. 12, prompting officials to quickly and unanimously pass an "urgency ordinance" aimed at protecting the city in case of a court challenge.

A recent 9th Circuit Court decision, Baby Tam & Co. vs. City of Las Vegas, found that cities that restrict adult businesses have to have a clear appeals process when denying them a license, La Palma planner Joan Hoesterey said. La Palma did not have such a process previously, she said, which left the ordinance vulnerable to being overturned if an adult business took the city to court.

While no city is allowed to ban such businesses entirely because of their 1st Amendment rights, the city can, as La Palma has done, restrict them to certain areas. La Palma's ordinance prohibits adult businesses near schools, churches and residences, which in essence restricts them to a remote corner of the city north of the 91 Freeway, Hoesterey said.

The urgency ordinance takes effect immediately because, according to Hoesterey, the city's potential inability to regulate adult-oriented businesses "creates an immediate threat to the public health, safety and welfare."

In case the urgency ordinance is challenged, the council also intends to hold a public hearing and pass a regular ordinance within the next two months.

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