Sex Toy Retailer's Suit Reveals Approved Locations

Rhett Pardon

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The owner of Taboo has just received the secret list.

That list, containing 42 addresses where a sexually oriented business can operate under Columbia's latest zoning ordinances, was just handed over to the sex toy and novelty store.

Taboo, Columbia's only licensed adult retailer, had been asking for the list, but city officials would not release it until the owners filed a federal lawsuit challenging the city’s zoning and licensing ordinances for adult businesses.

Shortly after Taboo opened in December of 2011, city dramatically limited where adult businesses can operate.

After losing a recent appeal to extend its license, Taboo filed suit at U.S. District Court, accusing the city of violating owner Jeff White's civil rights by using arbitrary and shifting tactics to force his business to close.

White testified this week in a court hearing that he had written letters and sent emails to the city asking for alternative sites in anticipation of moving. But the city was uncooperative, he said.

Columbia city official Krista Hampton testified that the city has 45 parcels where an adult business could locate. She noted the sites total more than 140 acres of available space for sexually oriented businesses and that some were sub-divided.

“To no surprise to me, 38 of the 42 sites are not available for sale or lease,” White told the court, noting that he found four locations on the list that violate the latest zoning requirements because they are too close to churches or neighborhoods.

Taboo has filed an injunction against Columbia over enforcement of its sexually oriented business ordinance.

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