The XBIZ Weekly Retail Round-Up

The XBIZ Weekly Retail Round-Up
Tod Hunter
CALIFORNIA

Strip Club Gives Up Fight

SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. — The legal battle between the city of Santa Fe Springs and the owner of a local gentlemen's club has ended, with city officials calling it a victory despite the $200,000 spent for legal fees.

"It's a culmination of a long, drawn-out process," said City Manager Fred Latham.

The owner of Spicy Gentlemen's Club decided not to pursue an appeal of an appellate court's decision blocking him from conducting adult entertainment — nude and lap dancing.

The injunction said the club violated city code by operating in a manufacturing zone and was a public nuisance.

"Edwin Kwong was aware of the deadline but decided not to further pursue the case," his attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, said Thursday.

Kwong had until Feb. 17 to file an appeal to the California State Supreme Court of the lower court's decision.

An injunction issued last year by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael C. Solner ordered Kwong to stop nude and lap dancing. Last April the appellate court denied Diamond's request to stay the injunction until it ruled on the appeal.

"We are very happy that the injunction will hold," Latham said.

Diamond maintained throughout the legal battle that the city's zoning regulations are unconstitutional because they do not realistically provide for adult businesses.

"The way the zoning is now, an adult entertainment club could be placed next to an ice cream parlor or bicycle shop," Diamond said. "The zoning doesn't make sense."

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FLORIDA

Maneuvers Continue in Strip Club Case

DESTIN, Fla. — Less than a month after Destin amended its adult-entertainment ordinances, the city is preparing for a do-over, according to City Manager Greg Kisela.

Not because there’s a problem with the new rules, Kisela said, but because Terry Stephenson, who’s suing the city to open a strip club, says the city didn’t meet legal requirements when it announced its public hearings on the new ordinance.

“It’s a chess game,” Kisela told The Log. “They make a move, we make a move. They file for a business license, they get denied; we move to amend our ordinances, they file suit.”

The opening moves took place in November, when Stephenson applied for a business license to offer nude dancing. Adult entertainment is only allowed in Destin’s Industrial zoning, so the city turned Stephenson down. Stephenson then filed suit in Pensacola federal district court to get the license.

The city’s countermove was to replace its 1986 ordinance prohibiting exposing genitals, buttocks or the female breast “below the top of the areola” in any business “which sells alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises.” The new rules, which the City Council approved unanimously last month, require the owner and staff of sexually oriented businesses to take out city licenses; prohibit nudity; ban alcohol from the premises; and limit the hours to 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Stephenson’s attorney, Gary Edinger filed for an injunction this week to block the city from enforcing the new ordinance on several grounds, including that the ordinance changes the city zoning rules as they relate to adult businesses; Destin didn’t comply with Florida law about how those changes are advertised; and he terms “adult cabaret” and “semi-nudity” are too “unconstitutionally overbroad” to hold up in court.

Kisela said if everything proceeds smoothly, the ordinance would be reconsidered the week of March 9, followed by council hearings on March 16 and 30.

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MASSACHUSETTS

Adult Zone Area Reconsidered

DEDHAM, Mass. — The adult zoning study committee voted 7-1 to place Dedham's adult entertainment district in an area that would tuck potential strip clubs or sex shops away from Providence Highway. The move is subject to review by town counsel and would also need to be approved by town meeting before taking effect.

Most of the panel favors the new location because it is more removed from public view. The committee also decided to reinstate the old adult zone that was ditched last fall, voting 7-1 to add the site of a former warehouse which was the town's adult zone from 1991 to 2008.

"I think we are making it easier to put one of these establishments in town," finance committee member Derek Moulton said of the new district. "We have taken the cheapest piece of property out of everything that we have looked at, and that will be in this district."

The committee will next meet next Tuesday, followed by a public hearing on Thursday.

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MINNESOTA

Court Date Set Over Nude Dancing Club

WABASHA, Minn. — The city of Zumbro Falls has asked Wabasha District Court for a permanent injunction to force Jeff and Shakiba DeWitz of Rochester, owners of Pussycat Cabaret, to shut down.

In documents filed Feb. 2, the city contends that the DeWitz couple opened the cabaret without the necessary permits.

Since the club opened, Zumbro Falls passed ordinances banning total nudity in public. It also banned adult establishments, such as adult bookstores, from being located within 500 feet of homes, churches, parks and day-care facilities. It also set a moratorium on any such businesses until the city can set guidelines for where they can go, but doesn't totally ban all of them.

The ordinance — which went into effect a month ago — contends that adult establishments reduce nearby property values and increase crime rates.

An affidavit from Wabasha County Sheriff Rodney Bartsh says that he and another officer went to the club Jan. 14 and found "a female dancer who was totally nude." Two days later, an officer reported liquor consumption on the premise, and there was an assault there.

A key element of the argument is that the cabaret doesn't have the necessary permits to be open now, said Zumbro Falls Mayor Alan VanDeWalker. If that is proven, the cabaret can't say that it can stay open, because it's not covered by the new ordinances.

However, Randall Tigue of Golden Valley, Minn., attorney for the cabaret, has said that the opening was legal and that the business didn't need permits at the time it opened.

He said the city's request for the injunction is "bogus" and "frivolous."

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