Chula Vista City Council approved Tuesday the refinement of language to the provisions providing licensing and operational standards for adult businesses operating in the city.
The purpose of amending the provisions is to help prevent the negative secondary effects of adult businesses.
Negative secondary effects of adult businesses include crime, the destruction of neighborhoods and commercial districts, and the increased threat of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, said attorney Deborah Fox.
Fox, a Los Angeles-based attorney retained by the city of Chula Vista, also said the city’s goals under the revised ordinance are to protect the “health, safety and welfare of the city.”
Councilman Rudy Ramirez said he supported an upgrade to the ordinance because of the negative effects these businesses bring to Chula Vista.
“I’ve spent some time looking at the volumes of cases and reports on the secondary effects and I’m convinced that they’re real,” he said. “Public agencies have a right, in fact an obligation, to reduce the secondary effects for public safety.”
Randy Welty, owner of the gentleman’s club Eyecandy Showgirls in Chula Vista, said he wanted to give his input on the refinement of the ordinance, but he said Fox purposefully planned Tuesday’s meeting knowing his attorney, Roger Diamond, was out of the country.
“All of this has been done without my attorney present,” he said. “Being that it has now been such a long time, I’m surprised they didn’t just delay it for two weeks until Mr. Diamond could be present. I think we have a right to be heard.”
Welty said Diamond had informed Fox months ago that he had his vacation scheduled during the time frame of Tuesday’s council meeting.
Welty also said he was given less than 24 hours notice about this item being on the City Council agenda.
Changes made to the city ordinance include clearer definitions and clarifications of the application process for adult-oriented businesses.
“We had an ordinance but it wasn’t current,” Ramirez said about the changes.
One of the definitions for a sexual-oriented business is defined more clearly as: “A business establishment or concern that as a regular and substantial course of conduct operates as an ‘adult book store or adult video store,’ ‘adult cabaret,’ ‘adult motion picture theater,’ adult model studio,’ ‘adult retail store,’ ‘adult arcade,’ or ‘adult motel or hotel.’
”Welty said he does not know if the city of Chula Vista needs to change language to its ordinance because the city has never provided him with a copy of it.
New regulations were also implemented for adult arcades.
For instance, each adult booth or individual viewing area shall not have an obstructive view of the interior of the premise of the adult business, so that the businesses’ manager can watch and make sure illegal or improper activity isn’t occuring within the areas of public assembly or where the public can be.
Fox also said however, Chula Vista can’t prevent certain sexual-oriented businesses from operating .
“Adult businesses, be it adult bookstores, video stores, and then live dancing facilities engage in what the courts have recognized as protected activity under the first amendment,” she said.
Although these businesses are allowed to operate by law, the city of Chula Vista can impose regulations.
Fox said the regulations must be content neutral, not content based.
Content neutral regulations are aimed at protecting the governmental interest of precluding the secondary effects.
Regulations can’t be imposed based on the content of the speech.
Fox said nude performances on a fixed stage have been found to be within the outer perimeter of protected activity.
Lap dances, Fox said, are not protected by federal law and can be regulated by the city, as she cited a court decision.
In November 2012, the city of Chula Vista imposed distance restrictions between performers and patrons and also implemented a no touching rule.
Welty said the city is taking away from “people having fun” by imposing such restrictions like these on lap dances.
In addition, City Council on Tuesday also received clarification of the zoning laws to regulate adult-oriented businesses.
Fox said the city cannot prohibit sexual-oriented businesses from conducting business.
“The court consistently provided that protected first amendment activity cannot be banned,” she said. “It can be regulated and it can be regulated by the imposition of reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.”
Welty said the drafting of the ordinance is just for political purposes.
“These are political people trying to keep their people voting for them so that they win their popularity contest,” he said.
“It makes no difference to me whether they win or they don’t, their beliefs don’t outweigh the facts (the First Amendment).