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L.A. urged to seek medical professional to inspect porn shoots

A group seeking ways to enforce a law requiring porn actors to use condoms makes the recommendation to the City Council.

August 17, 2012|By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times

Faced with a new law requiring that actors wear condoms during porn shoots, Los Angeles officials have recommended that the City Council begin searching for a medical professional to conduct inspections of adult film performances.

In a report to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the council, a working group focused on ways to enforce the condom ordinance said Film L.A. Inc., the office that processes film permits, should rework its applications so passages that deal with hazardous working conditions and dangerous special effects also mention the "transmission of blood and infectious materials."

The report, issued Wednesday, called for film permit applications to include a check box for companies to explain whether the productions will feature various forms of sexual intercourse and, if so, what kind. But on Thursday, officials amended that report, saying instead that they only want the companies to indicate whether sexual intercourse is involved — and verify that condoms will indeed be used.

"The wrong language was put in," said City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana.

The recommendations come eight months after proponents of condom usage in the adult film industry submitted enough signatures to get new regulations on the ballot. The council responded weeks later by approving its ordinance.

Although they are still developing strategies for conducting the inspections, city leaders are hoping Los Angeles County voters will approve a separate condom measure Nov. 6 that imposes similar regulations countywide. Such a measure would make adult film industry inspections the responsibility of the county health department, which already works to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in bathhouses and sex clubs.

If it passes, city leaders could put a measure on the March municipal election ballot that relies on the county for its enforcement, said City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana. "This is a healthcare initiative, and the county is responsible for all healthcare issues in the city of Los Angeles," he said.

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said city officials need to finish developing a permit fee for adult film shoots. But he said they had made progress in setting up a system for spot inspections and coordinating with county health officials.

Under a joint system, county health inspectors would be able to determine that an adult film producer is violating the law and then give that information to City Hall so that a film permit can be rescinded, Weinstein said. If there are repeat violations, Film L.A. could "refuse to issue film permits or shut down [a porn shoot] based on the fact that they don't have a permit for filming," said Weinstein, whose group led the fight for the condom law last year.

Of the more than 22,000 permits processed by Film L.A. last year, 480 were for adult film shoots. Creating an adult film permit office at the health department would cost a minimum of $291,000 annually, county officials said earlier this year.

The adult film working group at City Hall includes representatives of the Police Department, the Personnel Department and the city attorney's office. The panel called for a search process to identify a nurse or other healthcare specialist to visit L.A. movie sets where the transmission of blood or bodily fluids takes place. But that process won't be developed for at least 90 days — after the county's ballot measure is decided.

Still unclear is the amount of the inspection fee that would be charged by the city to adult film producers. The working group asked officials at the Fire Department to come up with an estimate if they were charged with the task and was informed the cost could range from $2,204 to $3,472, Santana said.

"It's hard to establish what the fee should be until we know the actual cost of providing the inspections," Santana said.

david.zahniser@latimes.com

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