L.A. Budget Cuts Could Affect Porn-Condom Enforcement

Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — Enforcement of Los Angeles City Ordinance No. 181989, called the "Safer Sex in the Adult Industry Act," could be less probable after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called Friday for the elimination of 669 city jobs.

While it hasn't yet been determined how the condom ordinance would be enforced, Villaraigosa's announcement today could derail possible resources that could be employed in porn dragnets within city limits.

The major portion of layoffs he plans will affect the LAPD, specifically 159 civilian clerks of the department. The rest of the layoffs would take place in other city agencies.

Villaraigosa announced the planned cuts as he discussed the upcoming year's $7.2-billion budget, which City Council must approve. The city faces a $238-million shortfall, with more expected in the next few years.

The porn-condom ordinance was passed by City Council in January while a ballot-initiative effort by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation was in full swing; council members decided for the ordinance after weighing legal and ballot-initiative costs.

The Adult Film Industry Working Group — comprising of various officials from Film LA, the LAPD, city Fire Department, the City Attorney's office and county Health Department — has met two times already, attempting to find ways to enforce the ordinance that forces actors to wear condoms while performing on the set.

At its second meeting, just this week, officials posed a number of potential problems with enforcement, such as whether Film LA, which coordinates film permits for the city, can ask producers whether their productions involve sex.

Questions such as those, it was brought up, could lead to First Amendment issues.

Another topic involved cam sites and whether the city could enforce the law in the privacy of people's homes by raiding them over suspected violations.

The Adult Film Industry Working Group's findings are mandated by City Council, which is scheduled to approve or defer enforcement plans on May 7. The group's next meeting is slated for May 2.

Diane Duke, the Free Speech Coalition's executive director, told XBIZ that the "City of L.A. has backed itself into a corner by passing a law, for which there is no need ... to avoid a $4.4 million ballot expenditure."

"In 2010, L.A. County released a 152-page epidemiological report on populations with high and increasing rates of HIV. The stated purpose of this report was to guide governments and nonprofit organizations on how to wisely target their expeditures," she said. "The adult entertainment industry and adult performers were not even mentioned in that report. Moreover, there have been no transmissions of HIV on an adult production set since 2004. 

"L.A. City is facing record budget shortfalls. Not only is it folly for AHF to waste donor dollars on this issue, but also to force tax dollars to pay for a  problem to nowhere is true absurdity."