Arizona Law Restricts Adult Businesses

Steve Javors
PHOENIX — A new Arizona ordinance signed into law on Friday, restricts strip clubs, adult bookstores and escort agencies from operating within a quarter mile of schools, parks, churches and residential neighborhoods.

The law, which enjoyed bipartisan support in the Arizona Legislature, was signed by Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano and backed by the Center for Arizona Policy.

Many feel recent regulations enacted by the mayors of Phoenix and Scottsdale respectively, are the impetus for the new statewide zoning law.

Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon has fought against a planned strip club opening downtown and rallied for zoning regulations barring new adult operations from opening in Copper Square.

While the latest law restricts the geographic location of adult operations, the city of Scottsdale and Mayor Mary Manross put the clamp on activities taking place within them.

In a unanimous decision late last year, the City Council agreed to outlaw full nudity in Scottsdale, as well as impose a new four-foot rule between patrons and dancers at strip clubs in the city, effectively outlawing lap dances.

Jenna Jameson, who purchased Babe’s Cabaret in Scottsdale where she lives, thinks the law might have been a direct result of her involvement.

“We are outraged that [they] have enacted an ordinance that will effectively put our law-abiding and tax-paying cabaret out of business,” Jameson said in an official statement. “They have created unfair and uncompromising rules governing the [clubs]. I believe this would not have become an issue if I hadn’t invested in the club.”

City officials have gone to great lengths in Arizona to stop the spread of adult-oriented businesses.

Scottsdale officials have been working with Tennessee lawyer Scott Bergthold, an expert on drafting strip club regulations who has helped several cities enact stricter laws for adult businesses. He heads multiple socially conservative groups, including the Community Defense Council, and has made his entire legal practice defending strip club regulations.